UK Defence cyber skills to be boosted through industry partnership

Individuals and teams across Defence will be upskilled to confront the latest cyber threats and prove cyber readiness

The Ministry of Defence will collaborate with Immersive Labs, an industry leader in cyber resilience, to support the department’s new Digital Skills for Defence programme to build stronger digital skills, and follows a successful trial by the British Army.

UK MoD Main Building

Tested against industry benchmarks, the collaboration will see personnel from the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Strategic Command and Civil Service engaged, with access to 1,800 realistic simulations and hands-on cybersecurity labs to evaluate individual and teams in decision-making against the latest threats.

As the recent National Audit Office (NAO) report on the MOD’s Digital Strategy (*) noted, the Department is showing good practice when it comes to the challenge of modern conflict rapidly digitising, affecting Defence work and how the Armed Forces operate in the battlefield.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk said: The NAO has rightly highlighted our focus on remaining at the forefront of digital capability, which is crucial as the shape of the modern battlefield continues to change at unprecedented speed.

Exploiting digital capabilities and data is fundamental to our success in modern military operations and to the effective running of Defence. Building on the feedback from the NAO report, the department is striving to build a workforce with the digital skills it needs to deliver the digital transformation of defence. The report acknowledged positive progress being made by the department on bringing together and aligning such digital practitioners across Defence. However, with a shortfall of homegrown talent and a very competitive market across the public and private sectors, the collaboration with Immersive Labs will also help identify cybersecurity talent to fill open roles and bolster the ranks of UK cyber experts.

MOD established the Digital Skills for Defence programme to deliver critical digital skills for Defence Leaders, Digital Professionals, and the whole Military and Civilian workforce. The programme is fundamental in building and retaining operational and business advantage. MOD’s ambition goes beyond education, seeking to transform to a learning culture where teams work collaboratively across the organisation.

From: Ministry of Defence

Published 11 November 2022

(*) Report conclusions

The nature of modern conflict is rapidly digitising, affecting the MoD’s business and how the Armed Forces operate in the battlefield. The MoD has put in place a digital strategy to respond to this challenge, which is consistent with good practice, has provided clear direction across the MoD and has support from the most senior defence officials. The MoD has made good progress with bringing together and aligning digital practitioners across defence. However, its performance in delivering major digital technology programmes needs to improve and is a risk to achieving this alignment.

The MoD does not have a complete picture of its progress against the strategy and so cannot readily demonstrate whether it is on track to deliver it or not. To meet the needs of the modern battlefield, and enhance its business efficiency, the MoD must transform a large and complex organisation with an extensive legacy estate, using scarce specialist skills. Given the scale of the challenge and the persistent barriers to change, achieving the strategy’s objectives by 2025 is ambitious. As future delivery challenges emerge, it will be important for the MoD to prioritise its funding and specialist skills to where it needs them most urgently. The MoD will be able to do this more effectively if it can articulate better how it will achieve the strategy’s vision in practice and how it will measure success along the way, not least in supporting its wider departmental objectives. This will allow it to achieve greater value for money with its £4.4 billion of annual digital expenditure.

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