Three men and a women stand socially distanced while having a discussion outside. They are standing on a loose gravel path surrounded by green spaces and trees.
From left: Denis Kelly, Niall Collins, TD, Prof Ann Ledwith and Joe Leddin. Image: Arthur Ellis

UL launches cybersecurity apprenticeship to tackle skills shortage

12 Jul 2021

University of Limerick will join with industry partners to provide a Level 8 cybersecurity apprenticeship to address Ireland’s skills gap.

University of Limerick (UL) is launching a new apprenticeship scheme to tackle the cybersecurity skills shortage in Ireland.

The two-year programme has been developed by UL in collaboration with Limerick for IT industry network and the Mid-West Regional Skills Forum.

UL is a member of the Cyber Ireland network, which identified a significant skills gap in the cybersecurity industry. A survey from 2020 showed that 41pc of organisations’ security teams are understaffed, and 48pc of companies surveyed had open or unfilled cybersecurity roles. Almost half (43pc) of cybersecurity hires are from outside of Ireland.

The Level 8 honours degree cybersecurity practitioner apprenticeship will commence intake in September 2022, and it will offer students a mix of mostly practical and some academic learning.

The work-based apprenticeship will see students spend 70pc of the time learning on-the-job with the remainder, which will amount to about two days a week, to be spent in an academic setting.

Speaking at the launch of the programme today, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Niall Collins, TD, said he was pleased with the practical aspect of the degree.

Collins said: “We have big plans for increasing the number of apprenticeships in Ireland and this course is a perfect example of how apprenticeships can give learners the skills they need to fill a vital need in the labour market.”

He added: “Cybersecurity is one of the greatest challenges facing society today and the labour market is crying out for staff who have the skills to combat the criminal gangs that are plaguing businesses, governments and individuals across the world.”

The new UL apprenticeship was developed with a number of global industry partners and public sector organisations including Dell, Northern Trust, Johnson & Johnson, WP-Engine, General Motors, Action Point, Lufthansa, Transact Campus, and Limerick, Clare and Tipperary County Councils.

Denis Kelly, former VP at Dell and consortia chair, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work, and that includes cybercriminals, who have had a particularly busy and lucrative time. The scale and complexity of cyberattacks is wide ranging and financially devastating with a potential cost of $10.5trn by 2025 according to Dell EMC.”

The UL programme will be made available for those looking to upskill as well as students who may have already completed a Level 6 cybersecurity apprenticeship under the Fastrack into IT programme.

Prof Ann Ledwith, dean of graduate and professional studies at UL, assured those with previous experience and qualifications that recognition of prior learning would be in place for candidates with some experience already under their belts.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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