UK’s first female cyber security apprenticeship achiever earns highest possible grade

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QA cyber security apprentice Stephanie Haynes of HORIBA MIRA just became the first woman in the UK to successfully complete the Cyber Security Technologist Level 4 apprenticeship programme – and she knocked her end-point assessment out of the park with a Distinction, the highest possible grade achieved by only one other learner so far.

Of the 238 learners currently on a QA cyber security apprenticeship, 39 (16%) are female – and new research from Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that women will represent more than 20 percent of the global cyber security workforce by the end of 2019.

“We’re delighted for Stephanie and we congratulate her on an amazing achievement,” says QA Apprenticeships Director Ben Pike. “According to a new QA survey of 200 women working in the tech sector or in a digital role, 87% felt there needed to be more female role models in tech. QA is passionate about encouraging more women into tech roles and empowering this through apprenticeships. Pioneers like Stephanie are inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.”

“When I found out I was the first female cyber security apprenticeship achiever in the UK, it was a surprise – but I was also really happy to hear it,” says Stephanie. “It’s exciting because I’m hoping that, with this result, I can help to inspire more women into a career in tech. I want them to know that you don’t always need a strong technical background before starting your career, or have a particular ‘personality type’ to fit into the industry. If you’re enthusiastic about your field of interest and love what you do, you will thrive!”

Stephanie was recruited through a national campaign for cyber apprenticeships in line with a wider government cyber skills strategy. During her time as an apprentice at HORIBA MIRA, an automotive engineering and development consultancy company based in Nuneaton (Warwickshire), Stephanie has risen to the unique challenge of adapting and applying the general information security principles she’s learned on her apprenticeship to a vehicle product cyber security context.  

“I chose to do the cyber security apprenticeship because it not only offers a comprehensive mix of theoretical and practical knowledge and training, but the opportunity to work within the industry and gain experience by applying those new skills in a real-world security environment,” she says.

Paul Wooderson, Cyber Security Principal Engineer and team leader at HORIBA MIRA, says that Stephanie has become a highly valued member of the team. “Her contribution continues to directly benefit the ongoing delivery and further development of our automotive cyber security services,” he says. “Apprenticeships have proven to be an effective additional means for us to develop the diverse teams of competent professionals that we will need to address the challenges of the future.”

Stephanie’s future is bright – she plans to pursue a degree in cyber security to bolster her career and complete further professional certifications. “To anybody considering an apprenticeship, I would strongly encourage you to go for it,” she says. “This combination of technical competence, soft skills and experience will make you a valuable and well-rounded asset to your workplace – not to mention it will look great on your CV!”

About QA’s Cyber Security Technologist Level 4 apprenticeship

QA’s Cyber Security Level 4 apprenticeship programme covers hot topics like ethical hacking and penetration testing, cryptography and encryption, open source intelligence (OSI), the ISO 27001: 2013 security standard and more. A standout feature is QA’s Cyber Lab: a state-of-the-art facility that immerses apprentices in realistic cyberattack situations so they can be ready if – or when – the time comes for a real cyber threat.

To learn how you can hire a cyber security apprentice or use your levy funding to bring your current staff onto the programme, please visit our employer information

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