In the UK alone, cybercrime costs the economy £27bn per year. Driven in part by the staggering shortage of IT professionals trained to combat cybercrime and by a mission of helping people change their career and become cybersecurity professionals, UK-based CAPSLOCK launched in 2020. The founding team of six – comprised of world-class educators, cybersecurity professionals and business gurus – set out to rethink education.
Today, CAPSLOCK is preparing more than 80 learners to enter the ever-evolving cybersecurity field, delivering an intensive boot camp experience that’s entirely online, from admissions and enrollment to the courses. To augment what’s taught, CAPSLOCK uses Challenge Labs developed by Skillable, and leverages the Skillable platform to create its own labs.
Driven by a mission to develop and deliver something more valuable
Andrea Cullen is a CAPSLOCK co-founder and its head of research and development. Her dissertation for her Ph.D. in operations management was an investigation of the technology within the pharmaceutical supply chain of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). “As the economy continues to move further into the digital age, it became increasingly clear that people needed help in changing their career accordingly,” she says. “We set out to develop something more valuable than what’s being offered by universities and other alternatives. Something that would take the student from foundational knowledge into competency.”
Conceived and launched as a startup, CAPSLOCK raised funding in order to launch an organization that doesn’t collect fees until the graduate is working and has surpassed a salary threshold. CAPSLOCK strives to provide career-changing opportunities based on attitude rather than ability to pay. The organization is committed to advocating for those from under-represented demographics, including women, veterans, Black, Asian, and minority-ethnic (BAME) and those who are neuro-diverse.
Reskill adult learners into cybersecurity careers
U.K., with all courses offered online
Number of students
80 students (as of June 2021)
Full-time for 16 weeks or part-time for 26 weeks
CAPSLOCK provides an all-access pass to the almost 800 Challenge Labs offered by Skillable. CAPSLOCK also uses the Skillable platform to develop its own lab experiences.
To help deliver on its goals, CAPSLOCK uses the Skillable platform to develop its own lab experiences that simulate the cyber workplace, specifically a corporate SOC environment. During the detection lab, for example, learners go into an open source environment and use SPLUNK, a cloud-based data platform for cybersecurity, to analyze data sets. In addition, CAPSLOCK provides each of its learners with an all-access pass to the almost 800 Challenge Labs offered by Skillable.
Challenge Labs present the user with a scenario and a problem to solve. Challenge Labs, which take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete and have three levels of complexity, contain a means of skills validation, are incorporated into CAPSLOCK courses and are sometimes sent to learners as pre-reading.
Preparing learners for a career in cybersecurity
Cullen cites several specific areas in which Challenge Labs and the Skillable platform help CAPSLOCK prepare its learners for a career in cybersecurity.
Affordable, accessible training
For starters, Skillable helps CAPSLOCK achieve one of its main objectives, which is to make the education and training it offers affordable and accessible to everyone. “Skillable platform is scalable,” Cullen says. “That’s massively valuable, to be able to create as many labs as you need. It’s also relatively affordable. The pricing is fantastic.”
An always up-to-date curriculum
A second major benefit Cullen cites is that use of the Skillable platform and the Challenge Labs help CAPSLOCK keep its curriculum up to date, focused on outcomes and aligned with industry requirements. “We can build and host our own labs as things change in cybersecurity,” she says. “If a new zero day comes out we can theoretically cover it in a lab.”
Ability to cover a broad scope
A broad scope is fundamental to the CAPSLOCK approach. The curriculum covers five critical areas. Students are taught to address and solve real-world cybersecurity concerns, going through scenarios as fictitious employees, focusing on areas such as security and awareness, security by design and incident response. “Skillable supports these areas,” Cullen says. “They have a nice, broad scope.”
Preparing students for the job market
Challenge Labs play a major role in helping CAPSLOCK learners differentiate themselves on the job market in two critical ways. First, they can use the Challenges Labs to prepare for the assessments that are often part of technical interviews. And secondly, the labs – those developed by Skillable and those that are developed by CAPSLOCK and accessed on the Skillable platform – help prepare the students to solve real-world problems immediately, on the first day of their new job. “Our students graduate with real workplace skills,” says Cullen.
Cybersecurity as a core business function
Cullen says the partnership with Skillable has helped CAPSLOCK train future professionals to approach cybersecurity as a core business function. After completing a lab, students are often divided into pairs or small groups to dissect what they learned in the lab and place it in a business context. “The pandemic has forced every business into the digital realm,” she says. “We are preparing our graduates to understand the concept of how cybersecurity integrates with a business and, as a result, bring to their roles a deep understanding of how their decisions affect the wider organization.” Cullen and the other two CAPSLOCK co-founders developed their curriculum in close partnership with business leaders, who want to hire cybersecurity professionals who have received the level of technical training provided by Skillable, complemented by business expertise.
A future of growth on the horizon
As organizations continue to relocate critical functions and data to the cloud, the importance of a workforce prepared to protect the infrastructure from cyberattacks will increase. Cullen says CAPSLOCK is prepared to grow in order to meet demand. “We’re currently training about 250 people per year, and our goal is to double that year over year,” she says.