Event showcases opportunities created by National Cyber Force

A selection of the county's leading organisations hosted an event to outline the opportunities and benefits presented by the new National Cyber Force to Lancashire businesses.

The event was hosted by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was co-produced by the LEP, NCF, BAE Systems, UCLan and Lancaster University, supported by Plexal.

Around 150 senior representatives from the region’s private, public and education sectors gathered at UCLan’s Engineering and Innovation Centre for a half-day event.

Themes covered how Lancashire companies and public sector organisations can collaborate together on NCF-related activities; opportunities for local businesses to develop more cross-sector working; the advantages of developing a regional cyber cluster across the North West; and how SMEs and the wider supply chain can tap into the commercial opportunities that could potentially be offered through the NCF.

Another key topic was the need to develop, maintain and promote a broad mix of skills, qualifications and career pathways which are aligned with the extensive range of jobs set to be generated, both directly and indirectly, due to the NCF’s investment.

The NCF is expected to create around 2,000 jobs and senior members emphasised their commitment to recruiting a genuinely diverse and inclusive local workforce, and discussed how they wanted to challenge the stereotype that people working in cyber roles are exclusively ‘techies,’ and ‘coders’.

Speakers highlighted that many of the roles are set to be non-technical, and that there will be employment opportunities to suit young people, new graduates and career-changers, as well as experienced cyber professionals.

The morning culminated in two panel discussions. The first, featuring a mix of Lancashire businesses and senior representatives from both GCHQ and NCF, discussed what tools and resources a region needs in order to develop an effective and collaborative innovation ecosystem. It also explored why Lancashire is very well-placed to develop these powerful and integrated private-public networks, and how they can increase productivity and drive growth.

The second panel featured local skills, training, enterprise and education providers, and another representative from the NCF.

Debbie Francis, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "This event cemented the fact that the NCF presents a transformational opportunity for everyone in Lancashire.

"For example, in addition to the 2,000 direct jobs announced, we anticipate many more will be created across the supply chain, and that many of these new positions will be high value and high skilled roles. But we also see the NCF acting as a powerful catalyst, driving innovation and bringing people, businesses and organisations together to develop new ways of doing things.

“It will also build upon some of the great work already undertaken by the LEP and its many partners, especially in areas like vocational training and business support, and will complement other powerful assets such as our outstanding universities, our award-winning Digital Skills Partnership, the recently launched Lancashire Cyber Alliance network, and the new AMRC North West facility.

“The NCF is clearly going to be a game-changer, and it’s a very exciting time for Lancashire. The LEP and its partners are therefore looking forward to working closely with the NCF, and maximising the fantastic opportunities set to be unlocked by their presence in the very heart of the county.”