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Former GCHQ head says digital skills needed to ’save country’: Comment from Fujitsu and Smoothwall

August 2017 by Experts

Today the former head of GCHQ has said that parents should encourage children to spend more time online to ‘save the country’, keeping the UK safe and economically competitive. The comment from Regina Moran at Fujitsu, who argues that in fact a balance between digital skills and emotional skills is vital to children’s health and prosperity. And The comment from Claire Stead at Smoothwall, who speaks about the need for parents to protect the safety of their children while encouraging their digital knowledge.

Regina Moran, Head of Industries, Fujitsu EMEIA

“It’s very clear that in this digital age, technical skills are going to be vital to our children’s lives: both personally and professionally. The growth of state-sponsored cyber threats even makes this a matter of national security, as Robert Hannigan suggests. However, for the success and the very well-being of our children, it’s crucial that they also develop other skills, including creativity, problem-solving and empathy. Organisations operate as a team, and is important to teach children how to cooperate and work together. To prepare them for their adult lives, parents have to encourage them not only to be academic, but also to participate in team sports, for example, regardless of gender.

“Technology is impacting more and more areas of our lives, and we will need a workforce that is not only comfortable with it but can develop inventive new ways to use it to improve people’s lives. But whilst technologies will always advance and change, it’s not enough to simply immerse our children in the technologies around today. We need to prepare the next generation to adapt to new technologies as they emerge, and ensure that they have well-rounded abilities. Cultivating a balance between technical and non-technical skills will be crucial for our children’s – and our country’s – prosperity.”

Claire Stead, Online Safety Expert at Smoothwall:

“Keeping children offline is no mean feat, with a quarter of 8-11s and seven in ten 12-15s now own a smartphone. Young people therefore should be allowed to embrace their digitally native nature and develop their cyber skills, preparing them for work in the increasingly important and relevant world of cyber security. And who knows – the children of today might be the greatest defence we have in protecting our country from cyber warfare in the future.

“However, while the former head of the GCHQ says that parents should encourage their children to spend more time online, a balance must be found between leaving children to roam the internet freely and watching their every move; while many kids will see web monitoring as an irritant, smart filtering and monitoring will make sure they won’t view anything they shouldn’t and enable them to continue their digital journey.

“We would actively encourage all young people to shore up their digital skills and knowledge of cyber-related issues. As the security world is constantly shifting and IT becomes embedded in most of what we do, we cannot afford to be a nation of laggards in what is sure to be one of the most competitive and important industries for years to come.”

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