Protect Against Cyber-Attacks Using the Apprenticeship Levy

In wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS, which infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, the glaring threat of cyber-attacks has, again, been highlighted.

Projections suggest that cyber-security breaches could cost £4.9 trillion globally every year by 2021 and, whilst cyber-security is already a growing consideration in many companies, it should be a high priority for every company that depends on computing systems for any aspect of their work. If your company can’t risk the downtime or loss of reputation and revenue that results from cyber threats, you may need to do more to guard against it. As with all things, a bit of knowledge can go a long way.

There are many influencing factors in the increase of cyber security concerns. An important factor, which was emphasised in the recent attack, was around keeping software up to date. The WannaCry attacks largely targeted Windows 7, despite Microsoft’s shifting toward Windows 10 support. Many organisations had yet to roll out a critical security patch issued by Microsoft in March, which blocked the vulnerability that WannaCry exploited.

This is a very real threat, which more-than-ever highlights the importance of having specially trained IT professionals in your business who can keep up with the demands of your systems. Aside from trained tech specialists, it’s also worth noting the importance the rest of your workforce plays in relation to cyber-attacks. Fundamentals like not opening suspicious emails might seem obvious, but it only takes one mistake for a network to become infected.

The growing dependence on computer systems across all industries has made almost every UK business a potential victim of cyber-attacks. More precisely, the government recently found that 90% of the UK workforce will use digital skills each day by 2020. Due to this extremely rapid expansion of the industry, a significant digital skills gap is being experienced across the UK, with businesses, collages and even schools unable to keep up with the necessary training and skills advancement that businesses need to function. With an extreme number of digitally-adept employees, businesses are increasingly needing to explore all options available to bolster their defence. However, the cost and time commitments of keeping staff trained can be significant a drain on resource.

The positive news is that the government has recognised this Digital Skills Gap and has begun to implement measures which will enable businesses to tackle it. One of these such measures is the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, which has ring-fenced funding for training and assessment of staff via Apprenticeships. Though Levy funds can be used for training in many areas, it has been estimated that 64% of all Levy funds will be spent on IT or Digital Apprenticeships.

Utilising the Levy funds, businesses will be able to invest in not only new hires, but also in upskilling their current employees with essential IT and Tech skills. With Apprenticeship programmes spanning a range of IT specialities, there are plenty of routes you can take to ensure your business is cyber-protected and remains ahead of this growing business threat.

For more information on hiring, upskilling your staff with IT and Digital Apprenticeships, or the Apprenticeship Levy, contact our team on 020 7426 9835.