London, Feb 11 (IANS) School children in England will be offered lessons in cyber security in a bid to find the experts of the future to defend the UK from attacks, the media reported on Saturday.
It is hoped that 5,700 pupils aged 14 and over will spend up to four hours a week on the subject in a five-year pilot, the BBC reported.
Classroom and online teaching, "real-world challenges" and work experience will be made available from September.
Cyber security is a fast-growing industry, employing 58,000 experts, according to the UK government, but the Public Accounts Committee has warned it is proving difficult to recruit people with the right skills.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing 20 million pounds ($24 million) 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 programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies."
"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," he told the BBC.
The government is already providing university funding and work placements for promising students.
Hancock said he wanted to ensure the UK "had the pipeline of talent" it would need.