UK Recruiting Youths for “Digital Army”


An urban regeneration project is seeking to train a “digital army” of young people to protect the United Kingdom’s businesses and organizations from cyber-attackers. 

The HALO project is seeking to recruit people aged 16-24 under its #RockStars program and train them “in the latest digital and cyber skills and techniques” from a new site in Kilmarnock, Scotland. 

Training will commence in May next year, and young people that complete the program will earn a HALO-accredited qualification to support future employment opportunities in the tech and cybersecurity industries.

On-site learning will take place at The HALO Kilmarnock’s Enterprise and Innovation Hub, which is currently being constructed on a 23-acre site that was formerly the home of internationally renowned Scotch whisky maker Johnnie Walker. Regeneration of the brownfield site came with a price tag of £63m.

A spokesperson for The HALO Kilmarnock said: “A 200-strong ‘digital army’ of young people will be established at The HALO Kilmarnock when it opens its doors in May 2021 following the commitment of £1.5 million of funding by the UK Government under its Kickstart Scheme.”

The decision to open the scheme to 200 people is a nod to 2020’s being the year that Johnnie Walker celebrates its 200th anniversary. 

The HALO has appointed Business Resilience International Management, founded by Mandy Haeburn-Little, former CEO of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, to design the HALO cyber-course. 

Under the scheme, all the members of the “digital army” will be paid for a minimum of 25 hours per week. The plan is that after six months of e-learning and on-site training, the recruits will enter a six-month work placement. 

“These placements are expected to be with a range of different companies, from The HALO’s corporate partners, such as ScottishPower, Barclays PLC and Anderson Strathern, to start-up companies based at The HALO and beyond. It is hoped that these work placements will, in time, become full-time opportunities,” said a spokesperson for The HALO Kilmarnock.

Recruits may potentially be housed within a number of The HALO’s 210 net-zero-carbon-emission smart homes that will be built in the second phase of the Kilmarnock project’s development.

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