Protector of the nation’s safety?
Working in this defence sector means that you play a critical role in protecting the safety of the human race. Threats such as terrorism are increasing as well as the emerging area of cyber-crime.
This career guide provides an overview of working in the defence industry, shares useful links for more information and has a spotlight on Cyber security, a growing area of defence.
If you are looking for a career to make a difference, a job which can be a matter of life and death, the defence industry could fit the bill, whether working in engineering, making defence equipment, working in the forces, for a government department or in Cyber security.
The defence industry employs over 300,000 people and includes research, development, the production and maintenance of military equipment and facilities.
Mergers and acquisitions are drivers of growth in the defence industry.
Facts and figures
The annual turnover of the UK defence industry is £35b. Defence exports were worth £7.2b in 2009. The UK is the second biggest defence exporter in the world after the USA. Defence exports enables 55,000 jobs and 10% of manufacturing is made up by defence.
Sectors of the defence industry include; aircraft manufacturing, aircraft sub-systems and components, defence electronics and communications, weapon systems and ammunitions, space, naval systems, land systems, security and cyber security.
There are 9,000 defence companies in the UK, including small businesses.
The defence industry is dominated by North American and West European companies, but is becoming more global.
The biggest UK based employers to the Military of Defence are; BAE Systems, Babcock, Qinetiq and Rolls Royce.
There is a high level of specialisation amongst the top players.
Working in the forces
Public sector cuts have meant reductions in the number of employees working in the forces, but people entering ‘civvystreet’ possess much sought after skills for parts of the private sector; ability to work under pressure, resilience, attention to detail, fast turnarounds, vigilance, team working, adaptability to change etc. Threats include hackers, state sponsored intrusion and terrorist cells.
Cyber security – why is it growing?
Cyber security is a growing area of defence – in recent years, the number of cyber-attacks has been growing exponentially. The world’s growing dependence on computers means that cyber security is becoming more important to protect nations and countries from the threat of attack.
The growth of social media, the use of electronic devices, the defence industry’s reliance on ‘big data’ means that the ‘cyber landscape is borderless and dynamic. Individual responsibility and awareness is essential as well as international co-operation.
Cyber security – skills shortage
There is a shortage of skilled workers - the UK lacks people with the technical skills and the current pipeline of graduates will not meet demand.
The UK’s current and future skills gap needs to be filled with roles for law enforcers, psychologists as well as technical staff. Predications are that it will take up to 20 years to address the skills gap, so if you are thinking of what career to choose for your first career or what retraining to do for your second career, cyber security could be a sound choice.
A shortage of IT and computer science experts affects other sectors too. There is a lot of competition for internet specialists from the private sector, so employers need to ensure that they have compelling rewards packages to attract and retain staff.
The government are investing heavily in research and education, establishing new centres for excellence in cyber security research, cyber security skills amongst the police forces and centres of doctoral training in cyber security and supporting initiatives such as ‘the cyber security challenge’ – innovative approaches to attract new talent.
The digital revolution is happening fast and so continual professional development is vital to keep skills and knowledge up to date.
Cyber security – career prospects
The young nature of the cyber security sector of the defence industry means that there is no universal criteria or set of qualifications linked with the vast array of job titles. The breadth of opportunities available and lack of recognised career paths, plus absence of information about entry routes can make it hard to understand the great prospects that working in cyber security brings.
Routes into cyber security include degrees in a science or technology related field. Knowledge of IT networks and creating and building IT systems is useful too. For the technologically literate younger generation, ‘Generation Connect’, in these times of high youth unemployment, cyber security could be a very wise career choice indeed. Negotiation, mediation, stakeholder management, policy making and languages are also useful competencies with the cross border nature of security work.
Cyber security – a life in the day of…
Tasks include; threat reduction, vulnerability reduction, deterrence, international engagement, incident response, resiliency and recovery policies, computer work operation, law enforcement, diplomacy and military and intelligence missions for the global information and communications infrastructure.