THE INAUGURAL ‘Secure Futures’ Programme commenced in digital format on Monday 15 February. The specialist employability programme, which has been launched by The Security Institute in partnership with the EY Foundation, witnessed 27 young people from low-income backgrounds take part in a whole week’s worth of paid virtual work experience that had been tailored specifically to the security sector.
The ‘Secure Futures’ Programme has been launched with the support of several sponsors as part of The Security Institute’s ‘Next Generation in Security’ initiative. It’s all about helping to improve the life chances of young people from low-income backgrounds, helping them to develop their skills and showcase the breadth of opportunities available within the security sector.
This inaugural week was the first of two virtual work experience weeks that the young people will undertake. These will then be followed by ten months of mentoring from volunteer security professionals and a year’s free membership to The Security Institute to help support their professional development as they begin their careers.
During the week, the young people took part in several sessions designed to develop their core transferable skills with a keen focus on communication and leadership. Several senior security professionals from across the sector joined the group to share their insights from within the security sector and answer any questions. The wide variety of speakers who volunteered their time to this initial element of the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme helped inspire the young people and highlighted the wide range of jobs available within the sector.
Insight and experiences
Speaking about the week, Dina – one of the young people taking part – said: “I came into the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme ‘blind’. I didn’t know there were so many roles within the security sector. Finding out from different people sharing their insights and experiences has made me more interested in security. Before joining ‘Secure Futures’ Programme, I didn’t know that there was a wide variety of cyber security jobs out there.”
Dina added: “Also, I didn’t have any idea what the sector was like, but now I see that it’s open to anyone and that there’s a variety of things you can do. Subsequent to one of the speakers delivering their presentation, I’m now interested in the role of a malware analyst and have started doing some of my own further research.”
The young people also took part in a Dragon’s Den-style challenge at the end of the week, drawing on all that they had learned so far. This was adjudicated by an esteemed panel including Michelle Russell (acting CEO at the Security Industry Authority), Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI (CEO at The Security Institute), Alison Jackson (managing director of the Nineteen Group) and practising security consultant Mark Tucknutt MSyI.
The young people were challenged to develop a mobile app that would help attract other young people of their age group to a career in security and help raise awareness about the security challenges we all face on a collective basis. The ideas varied from ‘gamifying’ students’ learning pathways to find out about security careers through to using GPS to raise awareness about local issues related to security. The winners of the Dragon’s Den Challenge will be announced at the initial cohort’s virtual graduation ceremony on Friday 9 April.
Speaking about his own personal highlights and what he will take away from the first week of the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme, Ifaz commented: “I have learnt quite a lot, such as the different pathways that are available to get into the sector. It was very inspiring speaking to senior security professionals, as young people we don’t really get the opportunity to speak to people in high positions very often. It was great to have them share their experiences and wisdom, we see a lot of the good work they as security professionals do around us but rarely see all the hard work and effort that goes behind it. After this week I want to research more to find out which sector I want to go into.’
Following on from this first week, the young people will take part in their second week of virtual work experience during April. This second week will provide a further in-depth insight into physical, personnel and cyber security. Leading up to this week, the young people have also been invited to a number of exclusive industry events and will remain in contact with their professional mentor.
Speaking on the success of the programme so far, Paul Barnard CSyP MSyI (a director of The Security Institute and the individual responsible for the ‘Next Generation in Security’ initiative) said: “Planning of the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme pre-dated the current pandemic, but we believe it’s now more important than ever for this opportunity to be available to young people from low-income backgrounds and the success of this first week has cemented that feeling. This first week has highlighted the invaluable contributions that young people can make to the security sector. Their fresh perspective and knowledge around different issues will help us tackle the challenges we face with innovative solutions. We need to embrace the next generation and the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme is helping to lead the way for the whole sector.”
The first week was facilitated by the EY Foundation’s expert programme delivery team, which include Nia Lonergan and Anita Chouhan. This is the EY Foundation’s first multi-employer programme.
Speaking about the success of the week, Chouhan said: “It has been a truly inspiring week seeing our young people becoming so passionate about the world of security. We’ve never before engaged in a multi-employer programme, so this has been a ground-breaking programme for us. The enthusiasm and expertise of the volunteer speakers has been keenly felt by everyone, while the support that the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme has received from across the sector has been remarkable.”
The ‘Secure Futures’ Programme has been made possible by a raft of sponsors and supporters including CIS Security, The City of London Crime Prevention Association, ICTS (UK), the Nineteen Group (representing the International Security Expo and The Security Event), SASIG, the Security Industry Authority, The Walt Disney Company’s Global Security EMEA operation, Ward Security, Wilson James and The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals.
*If you would be interested in supporting the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme and helping to usher-in the ‘Next Generation in Security’ contact Paul Barnard via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
**The latest instalment of ‘The Institute’s View’, written exclusively for Security Matters, is authored by Paul Barnard and focuses on the ‘Secure Futures’ Programme. Access the online version of the February 2021 edition of the magazine and turn to page 16