Investment in future Bonds

The days when spies were recruited from Oxbridge colleges with a tap on the shoulder and a fireside chat over a glass of port would appear to be long gone.

For the first time, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, the security and intelligence agencies, are offering an apprenticeship scheme for school-leavers in an attempt to attract the next generation of experts in espionage.

It is hoped that Apprentices with Intelligence will dispel the myth, reinforced by the martini-drinking James Bond, that only those from the elite classes join the secret agencies.

The Foreign Office said it wanted to harness the skills of the Xbox generation. Teenagers will be encouraged to sign up for the services at an early age rather than going to university, which has traditionally been the main recruiting ground.

There have been concerns that the agencies, especially GCHQ, have struggled to attract and retain the most skilled computer specialists because they can earn far more in the private sector.

The spy agencies have had to change their recruiting techniques in recent years to respond to the growing threat from Islamist terrorists and cyber warfare.

Last year, GCHQ posted a fiendishly difficult code online and invited anyone who cracked it to apply for a job with the listening station, based in Cheltenham.

This month it was reported that the agency is considering taking on hundreds of part-time civilian spies, nicknamed ''iPlods'', to work one or two days a week.

Last year MI5 launched an online game that allows potential recruits to try out their observation skills.

The apprenticeship scheme is part of a wider drive to take advantage of expertise from outside the services.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: ''Apprentices with Intelligence dispels the myth that apprenticeships are for low-paid or manual work and that a career in the intelligence services is the preserve of privately educated men.''

He added that it ''will open up multiple career paths. Candidates won't just be working with the very latest technology, they will be involved in creating it.''

The foreign secretary, William Hague, announced the apprenticeships during a visit to Bletchley Park, home to codebreakers during World War II.

He said: ''It will be the young innovators of this generation who will help keep our country safe in years to come against threats which are every bit as serious as some of those confronted in the Second World War.''

He also announced £480,000 ($743,000) in Foreign Office funding that will unlock £5 million from the Heritage Lottery to help preserve Bletchley Park. The two-year apprenticeship scheme will initially offer 70-100 places to applicants with three A-levels or an equivalent qualification.

The agencies will aim at students in a range of social media, with candidates to apply before the end of November.

Andrew Wilkinson, the chief executive of TMP Worldwide, a recruitment agency that helped create the program, said: ''Successful candidates will learn about how to protect the nation's security and that's something you won't find at university.''

GCHQ is to switch its once-a-year recruitment policy to a rolling scheme to attract not just degree holders but also those with vocational qualifications.

The days when spies were recruited from Oxbridge colleges with a tap on the shoulder and a fireside chat over a glass of port would appear to be long gone.

For the first time, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, the security and intelligence agencies, are offering an apprenticeship scheme for school-leavers in an attempt to attract the next generation of experts in espionage.

It is hoped that Apprentices with Intelligence will dispel the myth, reinforced by the martini-drinking James Bond, that only those from the elite classes join the secret agencies.

The Foreign Office said it wanted to harness the skills of the Xbox generation. Teenagers will be encouraged to sign up for the services at an early age rather than going to university, which has traditionally been the main recruiting ground.

There have been concerns that the agencies, especially GCHQ, have struggled to attract and retain the most skilled computer specialists because they can earn far more in the private sector.

The spy agencies have had to change their recruiting techniques in recent years to respond to the growing threat from Islamist terrorists and cyber warfare.

Last year, GCHQ posted a fiendishly difficult code online and invited anyone who cracked it to apply for a job with the listening station, based in Cheltenham.

This month it was reported that the agency is considering taking on hundreds of part-time civilian spies, nicknamed ''iPlods'', to work one or two days a week.

Last year MI5 launched an online game that allows potential recruits to try out their observation skills.

The apprenticeship scheme is part of a wider drive to take advantage of expertise from outside the services.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: ''Apprentices with Intelligence dispels the myth that apprenticeships are for low-paid or manual work and that a career in the intelligence services is the preserve of privately educated men.''

He added that it ''will open up multiple career paths. Candidates won't just be working with the very latest technology, they will be involved in creating it.''

The foreign secretary, William Hague, announced the apprenticeships during a visit to Bletchley Park, home to codebreakers during World War II.

He said: ''It will be the young innovators of this generation who will help keep our country safe in years to come against threats which are every bit as serious as some of those confronted in the Second World War.''

He also announced £480,000 ($743,000) in Foreign Office funding that will unlock £5 million from the Heritage Lottery to help preserve Bletchley Park. The two-year apprenticeship scheme will initially offer 70-100 places to applicants with three A-levels or an equivalent qualification.

The agencies will aim at students in a range of social media, with candidates to apply before the end of November.

Andrew Wilkinson, the chief executive of TMP Worldwide, a recruitment agency that helped create the program, said: ''Successful candidates will learn about how to protect the nation's security and that's something you won't find at university.''

GCHQ is to switch its once-a-year recruitment policy to a rolling scheme to attract not just degree holders but also those with vocational qualifications.

 

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