I was absolutely delighted to officially open the new Cyber Security Hub and course at Coleg Gwent, Ebbw Vale, recently – not just because of the opportunities it will unlock for young people in the area but also because it marked the culmination of a project that started in my office four years ago.

In 2018 two Fujitsu employees from Brynmawr approached me with an idea for a learning hub that would give young people qualifications and work opportunities in cyber security.

I visited a similar project in Reading to see how it worked and then began facilitating meetings between the local college, cyber security experts and businesses to get the ball rolling.

It was during this period that I really began to learn what massive industries cyber security and digital are, and the growth that is expected in the coming years.

I heard that big firms could not fill their cyber security roles fast enough. I was told that there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of cyber security experts needed in the near future.

This is stood up by recent research by the DCMS showing that the demand for cyber security professionals has increased significantly over the last year or so.

There is currently an estimated annual shortfall of around 13,700 cyber security personnel in the UK.

In 2021 there were 153,192 cyber security job postings made in the UK - 53,144 for pure cyber security roles and 100,048 roles that required cyber security skills.

It is incredibly important that our young people have a head start in this field. We now have a fantastic facility to do just that here on our doorstep in Blaenau Gwent, and I’m told that Coleg Gwent will be replicating the idea across some of its other campuses.

We also have Thales’ National Digital Exploitation Centre and ResilientWorks, both a stone’s throw from the college in Ebbw Vale, forming part of the Welsh Government Tech Valleys programme and something that puts Blaenau Gwent at the spearhead of plans to make our country a centre of excellence for cyber security.

I remember speaking with Thales about getting children interested in cyber security skills early, and I’m very pleased to hear that they are regularly reaching out to our local primary schools to get our youngest pupils excited about the industry and the opportunities available to them.

I’m thrilled that Blaenau Gwent is getting ahead when it comes to the jobs of the future.