Labour has called for cyber specialists to be included in the Reserve Forces and so we welcome this announcement:
Special terms and conditions of service and mobilisation requirements are likely to be put forward to avoid deterring highly demanded cyber experts from joining the reserve forces, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The move comes in response to fears that a UK cyber skills shortage could create difficulties for recruiting the UK’s new cyber reserve, particularly when coupled with the problem that many potential cyber recruits would not fit a traditional “military mould”.
“The difficulty facing defence is that not only are these specialists in short supply nationally but they might not necessarily fit the traditional reservist profile,” the MoD’s reservist white paper said.
“They may either be unable or unwilling to meet the current military entry standards.
“Defence will therefore look at the terms and conditions of service and mobilisation requirements in order to ensure they are set at a level that will not discourage or deny these scarce specialists from joining the cyber reserves.”
The MoD had been told by employers that a “lack of innovation in military thinking” could block the success of a cyber reserve.
A pilot scheme is to be run from August to “evaluate a significantly more innovative and inclusive approach to recruiting, training, employment and retention of reservists employed in cyber-related posts”, the ministry said.
“The terms and conditions of service employed in the pilot will recognise the unique attributes of individuals who might otherwise not be attracted to the reserve forces.”
The move comes as part of a wider attempt to recruit thousands more reserves as the size of the regular army is cut by 20,000 troops. The Army Reserve, formerly the Territorial Army, is to double to 30,000 and reservists across the forces will increase to 35,000.
The MoD is also looking to tackle cyber threats in its supply chain and has now launched a new partnership tasked with improving cyber security amongst defence suppliers to avoid intellectual property being stolen in cyber attacks.