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Government won’t regulate on professional cyber standards

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The government has elected not to proceed with regulatory intervention to embed standards and pathways across the cyber profession
The government has published a response to its recent consultation, Embedding standards and pathways across the cyber profession by 2025, saying that on the basis of the feedback received, it will not move to enact any kind of regulatory intervention.

The consultation, which opened on 19 January 2022, sought to engage with stakeholders from across the cyber security community and elsewhere to establish how the government could best support uptake of proposals being spearheaded by the UK Cyber Security Council, which ultimately aim to bring to the cyber security profession similar standards of accountability, certification and professionalism found in sectors such as accountancy, civil engineering or legal.

Among the questions asked were whether there was a requirement for regulation to support the Council in its aims of introducing chartered standards, and whether a register for chartered cyber practitioners should be created.

In her ministerial foreword setting out the government’s response, Julia Lopez, minister for media, data and digital infrastructure, wrote: “We do not think regulatory intervention is appropriate at this stage. However, to guarantee the successful professionalisation of cyber security, the Council will require strong support from industry, regulators and the public sector.

“We will continue to do all we can across government to provide this support and engage closely with regulators and industry to secure similar support.”

On the basis of the responses received, the government said that overall, respondents were opposed to the idea of regulatory intervention, with common concerns including that the UK Cyber Security Council was too new a body, and that regulation would hinder the industry’s ability to recruit and would exacerbate the current skills shortage by throwing up more barriers to entry.

The UK Cyber Security Council still plans to move ahead with introducing chartered standards that align with 16 specialisms it has previously set out, and the government has committed to tracking the adoption of these standards, and will continue to assess whether regulatory intervention might be needed in future. It will also create a voluntary register listing cyber practitioners who meet its professional standards, with members accredited as associate, principal or chartered.

UK Cyber Security Council CEO Simon Hepburn welcomed clarity on the issue from the government, and said its findings would allow the Council to better lead in working with stakeholders to achieve the ultimate aim of creating a world-class and diverse cyber profession in the UK.

“The consultation itself was tremendously helpful in identifying the key challenges faced by stakeholders and has enabled us to create solutions to help address these,” said Hepburn.

“Observations were rightly raised about the complex nature of career routes into cyber security; the myriad cyber qualifications, certifications and degree standards that exist without any uniform equivalency; and the challenges this creates for employers when it comes to assessing candidate suitability.

“By introducing universal chartered professional standards aligned to 16 recognised cyber security specialisms and working with awarding bodies to align these to existing qualifications, we are confident we can create the clear framework needed to ensure the UK cultivates a world-leading cyber sector. And by creating a voluntary register of cyber security practitioners holding our professional standards, we will help to build further recognition, confidence and clarity across the industry – for both employers and employees.

“With the government’s response to the consultation confirming that a staged approach is preferred, through which the sector has the opportunity to collaborate in the development of a diverse, accessible and ethical profession, it is now time for us all to work together to create an environment in which cyber expertise across the UK can really flourish.”

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