Agility and integration: These are two of the guiding principles of the Defence Cyber School (DCS) at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.
The DCS has developed an innovative approach to upskilling MOD and government personnel in the technical capabilities required for cyber-related roles. The Cyber Foundation Pathway (CFP), launched as a pilot in 2019, provides a modular route to bring a cyber novice into a position where they can undertake the essential elements of their role in a step-by-step approach.
The modular timetables are flexible to tailor learning for those new to the field, whilst also allowing those with pre-existing experience and skills to join the pathway later on, minimising the time they need to progress to the end of the pathway.
Over the last few months, DCS has successfully transitioned the CFP from pilot to business as usual, formalising the delivery programme as a recognised career path for personnel. The growing need for staff to fulfil technical cyber roles across defence has led to the planned expansion DCS infrastructure expansion as well as increased digitisation of the modules.
Now, the DCS employs a blended approach to allow students to choose between online self-study, online tutor led training and traditional classroom training for any individual module of the pathway. The new academic year also sees the launch of our first fulltime master's degree in cyber through Cranfield University.
DCS is one of three schools that form the Information Warfare Group (IWG), a defence centre of excellence for the horizontal integration of non-kinetic effects that sits within the Technology and Business Faculty of the Defence Academy.
Launched in November 2019, the IWG oversees all information and cyber training and education up to and including masters-level. It is not just a teacher of concepts and skills, but is also a key member of the information warfare community and a proponent for shared development, integration and research. DCS is the IWG's most agile organisation, keeping pace with threats and technological advancements, and growing rapidly to meet customer demands for increased skills and knowledge.
Over 750 training places have been provided on pathway modules since March, including those completing self-study. Some also participate in a Role Streaming Event (RSE), organised by a partner organisation, where students were assessed against the requirements of a number of roles. As well as hosting the RSE, DCS also provided the facilities for the UK contingent to remotely attend the United States Air Force Advanced Course in Engineering (Cyber), lasting 11 weeks.