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Schoolchildren in England will be offered lessons in cyber security in a bid to find the experts of the future to defend the UK from assault.

It is hoped 5,700 pupils aged 14 and over will spend up to four hours a week on the subject in a five-year pilot.

Classroom and online teach, “real-world challenges” and work experience will be made available from September.

A Commons committee last week warned that a skills shortage was undermining confidence in the UK's cyber defences.

The risk that offenders or foreign powers might hack into critical UK computer systems is now ranked as one of the top four threats to national security.

‘Cutting-edge skills'

Russia including with regard to is suspected of planning sustained assaults on Western targets.

Cyber security is a fast-growing industry, utilizing 58,000 experts, the governmental forces tells, but the Public Accounts Committee has alerted it is proving difficult to recruit people with the right skills.

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The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing 20 m for the new lessons, which will be designed to fit around pupils' current courses and exams.

Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock said: “This forward-thinking program “il be seeing” thousands of the best and brightest young intellects given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security abilities alongside their secondary school studies.

‘Pipeline of talent'

“We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extra-curricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent.”

The government is already university funding and run placements for promising students.

An apprenticeship scheme has also begun to support key employers to train and recruit young person aged 16 or over who have a “natural flair for problem-solving” and are “passionate about technology”.

Mr Hancock told the BBC he wanted to ensure the UK “had the pipeline of talent” it would need.

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