Neuro-diverse Cyber Security Training

The UK Cyber Security Forum ran a cyber security training course for unemployed neuro-diverse adults in Worcester.

This training aimed to help address some key issues including:

• A significant cyber security skills shortage set against a fast growing demand for individuals with these skills.

• The low rates of employment of individuals with Aspergers and other neurodiverse conditions.

Training Neurodiverse Individuals in Cyber Security

Only 16% of autistic adults are in full time work and this figure has remained the same for the last decade. Despite many individuals within cyber security teams having autistic traits, there is a large community of neurodiverse individuals who need additional support to train and work in cyber security. There is currently little support to develop these skills and so these individuals are often long term unemployed.

Many neurodiverse individuals have particular skills in being detailed, focused, and recognising changes in patterns. However, they find it difficult to work in a typical workplace due to their disability affecting their ability for social interaction, understanding workplace ‘rules’, and coping with noise and excessive activity. In addition, many adults in this situation have been unsuccessful in getting or holding jobs in the past and, partly as a consequence, they have high social anxiety and low self esteem. Many adults in this situation would find it extremely stressful to start work in a company immediately.

This project is run as a safe environment focused on the needs of the trainees. It aims to have a similar atmosphere to the charity ASPIE which many of these individuals find is the only place they feel they can relax and not feel judged. By creating an environment, which is not stressful or judgmental, the individuals will be able to relax, learn and discover their potential in the field of cyber security and IT support.

In addition to cyber security skills, mentoring and training will be provided to help understand the workplace. This will help to prepare the trainees for eventual work in commercial companies and other organisations.

You can read a blog by one of our neurodiverse trainees who explains a bit more about what this project means to him here

Working with IASME

After the first cohort of cyber security training, it become clear that some of the trainees would not be ready to move straight into a full-time commercial job from the training.  UK CYber Secuity Forum tried to raise funds  to start a project which could employ the graduates of this training programme and generate income to cover the costs of ongoing training.  Unfortunately, this fund raising was not sucessful.

IASME is a small company based in Malvern and they are an Acceditation Body for the Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme.  IASME wanted to help and so have invested £180,000 to set up a project within IASME which will employ 14 of the neuro-diverse graduates of the cyber security training. This project will offer commercial cyber security services and also an innovative new service which will provide affordable internet protection for vulnerable people in the community.  These activities will give valuable work experience to the neuro-diverse employees and IASME will then support them in moving on to other employment in other cyber security companies when they are ready.  IASME will continue to support the individual in the new job for at least 3 months after the move.

When one of the neuro-diverse employees moves to a role in a new company, their place will be filled by another graduate of the UK Cyber Security Forum training course.