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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Apprenticeship scheme for spooks unveiled


The UK’s top spy agencies are to offer 100 school-leavers a two-year apprenticeship in becoming a spook in a bid to protect the country from cyber-criminals.

According to the Foreign Office, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ will all offer on-the-job work placements in an attempt to “harness experts from the ‘X-box’ generation who have grown up with a world of social media, global connectivity and interactive gaming”.
The move marks a departure from the security services’ traditional recruiting ground of universities and is intended to help dispel the widespread belief that only members of the elite are taken on.
There have also been concerns recently over the intelligence agencies’ difficulties in recruiting skilled IT specialists because candidates can earn much more in the private sector.
Under plans revealed today at Bletchley Park by foreign secretary, William Hague, up to 100 Security Industry Authority apprenticeships will be made available, with the first recruits arriving at GCHQ this autumn.
The aim is to create a new generation of code-breakers and cryptanalysts in order to protect sensitive government data from cyber-espionage and cyber-crime.
Hague said that he saw “evidence of deliberate, organised attacks against intellectual property and government networks in the United Kingdom from cybercriminals or foreign actors with the potential to undermine our security and economic competitiveness”.
This meant that the UK now had to face and confront “one of the greatest challenges of our time” in order to ensure that the country remained “a world leader in cyber-security and a pre-eminent safe space for ecommerce and intellectual property online”, he added.
All 18-year-olds who have taken vocational courses in science, technology or engineering or who have three good A levels will be eligible to apply for the scheme before the end of November as an alternative to going to university.
They will learn how to tackle cyber-threats, organised crime and terrorism and will also get involved in counter-espionage activities. On completion of their apprenticeship, participants will receive a Foundation Degree and a Level 4 Diploma in IT Professional Competence.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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