There has been a huge response to an apprenticeship scheme aimed at helping defend the UK’s national critical infrastructure, according to the Government.

After National Apprenticeship Week it said more than 1,200 people had applied for the 23 cyber security apprenticeships in a pilot scheme.

Successful recruits will be placed in jobs in energy, water and transport companies to help bolster cyber defences for critical national infrastructure.

The apprenticeship programme is led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and is part of the Government’s National Cyber Security Programme.

It aims to help develop tomorrow’s cyber security professionals and tackle the risk of a continued skills shortage in the profession.

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Digital and culture minister Matt Hancock said the scheme would take candidates with a thirst for new technology and place them in industries with on-the-job training.

“This is an important part of our National Cyber Security Programme and recent Digital Strategy to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future,” he said.

“It is fantastic to see such a huge response to this scheme and I am sure all the apprentices will help make these workplaces more productive, bring in fresh ideas and contribute from day one.”

Training will be delivered by an external provider and will include a three-day capture-the-flag cybersecurity workshop.

It will also include topics such as ethical hacking, network defence, malware analysis, encryption and cyber security operations.