Cisco joins growing Manchester cyber security hub

Networking technology giant Cisco has become the latest supporter of Manchester’s growing Digital Security Hub (DiSH) cyber security accelerator, launching a series of initiatives to support the centre’s ambitions to be at the forefront of security innovation in northwest England.

Manchester already hosts a growing cyber security ecosystem, besides DiSH being home to GCHQ’s north-of-England outpost, with which it shares offices. The city is also a short drive from the National Cyber Force’s Samlesbury headquarters near Preston.

“As Greater Manchester realises its digital ambition, it’s crucial that we equip everyone who lives and works in the region with the awareness, tools and skills to help improve their security resilience,” said Cisco’s chief executive for the UK and Ireland, David Meads. “We’re delighted to be working with DiSH and its founding partners to do just that.”

According to Cisco’s own figures, approximately half of small businesses are underprepared to face a cyber security incident, and working through DiSH – which is to be granted Cisco Networking Academy (CNA) status under the auspices of Cisco’s UK Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme, it hopes to help future-proof business owners across Greater Manchester, as well as bring together industry, startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support the development of new, resilient security services.

As a CNA, DiSH will now deliver cyber security skills support through a structured learning programme, beginning with a free, self-guided introductory course to equip learners with a basic awareness of vulnerabilities and the main principles of security resilience. This course will open up further learning pathways delivered through a pre-existing Cisco partnership with UCEN Manchester.

“We greatly value the opportunity to partner with Cisco, a global leader in cyber security, to help deliver the critical skills needed to protect businesses of all sizes from potential attacks in an increasingly complicated threat landscape,” said DiSH cyber security partnership development manager, Jon Lomas.

“Becoming a Cisco Networking Academy will help us to deliver free and easily accessible training for our local business population to help them address the security risks they face.”

Skills and diversity

Cisco’s programme of work through DiSH will also include a heightened focus on both skills and diversity in the security profession through a Cisco Cyber Camp programme launched in collaboration with the Open University, offering free, remote and self-paced training to 13 to 19-year-olds from across the UK who identify as female or non-binary.

The course will help young people learn industry-ready security skills and take part in women-led forums, online webinars and soft skills training. Completion of the course will open up more advanced security qualifications. Enrolment for the first cohort is now open, and more details can be found here.

The partnerships with the Open University and UCEN Manchester will also target young people across Greater Manchester, through free online training programmes and resources for students, schools and teachers, aligned with the recently introduced T-Level technical qualification curriculum. They will also provide teacher training and skills-to-jobs learning for pupils attending Dean Trust schools and academies in Greater Manchester, and other institutions supported by UCEN Manchester.

Cisco has long had a connection with Greater Manchester, and its latest commitment builds on its role in delivering the Greater Manchester One Network initiative, a strategic partnership signed with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority last year.


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