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Strategic Command bursaries for 100 students in the North West

Strategic Command’s bursary programme to encourage talented young people into digital and cyber careers in Defence has kicked off for 100 students in Lancashire.

A level and T level students from across four educational institutions in Lancashire – Blackpool and Fylde College, Runshaw College, Blackburn College, Cardinal Newman College – gathered at Ewood Park in Blackburn for a day of exciting activities and insights into future career opportunities.

As part of ensuring the creation of a workforce fit for an increasingly technological future, the scheme supports and incentivises the study of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), digital and cyber courses and promotes future careers in defence.

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Individuals selected for the scheme are provided with the necessary tools to maximise their personal and career growth, ultimately to the benefit of both themselves and our nation’s security and prosperity.

Above: A level and T level students from across four educational institutions in Lancashire taking part in the day's events in Blackburn.
Image MoD Crown Copyright

Through collaboration with the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub (LSEH) and the Ministry of Defence’s Digital Skills for Defence programme, all successful students on this pilot scheme will be provided with access to a broad range of mentoring and development opportunities including digital learning as well as financial support and a high-performance laptop.

With a changing world involving constant and rapid technology development, investing in talented young people, especially in STEM and digital spaces, is a national priority. This investment aims to help rectify a national skills shortage in these areas and deliver a defence digital and cyber workforce fit for the future.

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The event featured everything from robot dogs to code-cracking and a time-pressured virtual escape room. Working more closely with industry is vital as we tackle digital and cyber threats and many of the activities were provided by our industry partners.

Defence Digital’s Claire Fry, who leads the Digital Skills for Defence programme, spoke of the importance of our collaborators and contributors: "I want to extend my personal thanks to all the exhibitors and volunteers who made the STEM and Digital Skills bursary induction such a huge success. It’s fantastic to see the dedication, hard work and passion from everyone supporting the excellent event. We have received great feedback from a diverse student cohort, the four participating colleges, Lancashire County Council and industry partners. We look forward to expanding the scheme further in Lancashire and beyond."

Feedback from students in Lancashire has been excellent, with many students sharing they are considering career paths that they previously didn’t know existed. The students heard first-hand from those currently involved in Defence’s cyber and digital activities. Both the speed networking and marketplace stalls gave the students a chance to meet and network with experts from across Defence – including both military and civilian personnel – working in organisations including the National Cyber Force and Defence Digital.

Speaking about the opportunities in the region, County Councillor Ash Sutcliffe said: "It goes without saying that this is a really positive move, coming at the same time as we prepare to welcome the National Cyber Force to Samlesbury and as our team at the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub are developing new and exciting opportunities for people in our region to develop digital and technical skills."

Following the successful kick off, Strategic Command plans to scale the programme across the UK. With the talent and enthusiasm for digital and cyber careers in Lancashire.

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