I have always found presenting to school students daunting and so the prospect of a whole afternoon in front of twenty pupils at Newcastle’s University Technical College, North East Futures, left me with mixed feelings. My trepidation wasn’t helped by the fact that the afternoon was to be spent talking about governance, data protection and cyber without any real reference to technology. My mood was lifted however in that I was accompanied by Jill from Muckle, her expertise in data legislation, in particular around GDPR, puts me to shame. I think she felt the same trepidation as I did.
The afternoon came about following my involvement in CyberNorth, a Dynamo North East initiative to position the region as a great place to deliver cyber related services. I was approached to help UTCs across the country to develop a cyber security group with the aim of helping students think about a career in this burgeoning and important subject.
Jill and I had put some planning into the event and decide that we needed to get the students working together in groups as much as we could. We split the event into three parts and in each we had some discussion followed by some work to answer the questions we had posed.
In the governance piece we talked about what it meant and why it was important. We posed the questions: Thinking about your UTC, What needs to be governed? Why? How much governance is required? Why? How would you go about setting up governance, What resistance made you get?, Why? How would you address it?
The students responded well with an increased understanding of the complexity of governance, covering issues such as attendance, good behaviour and of course computer security.
When it came to data protection, Jill showed the students seven different types of common data and asked whether they were personal data or not. I must admit I learned as much from this section as did the students and it became clear that a lot had to do with context.
Finally we covered consent and talked about the huge amounts of data we give away, especially on social media. The students were asked: How much are you giving away? Not enough, too much or about right? What can you do about it?
Again their responses were very interesting and we soon got around to talking about parents giving consent on their behalf.
Yes, it was hard work but in the end thoroughly enjoyable. Jill and I were able to show that cyber jobs are not just coding or technology and that there is a wide range of opportunity encompassing all skills and talents. Hopefully we made some of this has stuck with the students.