​Spymasters hunt for coding and tech apprentices to help combat hackers and cyberattacks

Intelligence agencies are looking for young tech enthusiasts, but if you plan to apply for one of their jobs, make you sure you keep keep quiet about it.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

An aerial image of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

GCHQ/Crown Copyright, Crown Copyright

Britain's intelligence and security agencies are looking to recruit technically-minded apprentices to help combat the increasing threats that Britain faces from terrorists, hackers, and cyber fraudsters. But if you do apply, don't post about it on Facebook or Twitter.

Intelligence agency GCHQ and the domestic and foreign security services MI5 and MI6 want to recruit young people interested in technology and coding.

The 'British Intelligence Higher Apprenticeship in IT, Software, Internet and Telecoms' leads to a foundation degree, and offers a year working in Cheltenham with placements at GCHQ or London, and possibly at MI5, MI6, or the National Crime Agency afterwards.

The higher apprenticeship will cover areas including programming, information assurance, software engineering, analogue and digital signal processing, GSM fundamentals and mobile telephony protocols, plus fundamentals of data communications and protocols, all of which should be a good grounding for apprentice spies.

The three-year Technical Apprenticeship scheme, based in the Greater Manchester area, leads to a BSc degree and will give apprentices the opportunity to build and maintain "some of the world's most sophisticated electronic equipment amongst other exciting things".

GCHQ said the apprenticeship will cover a variety of subjects across the software engineering lifecycle including object-oriented programming, data modelling and SQL, web application development and security, systems analysis and design, user experience design, big data and analytics, and software testing.

"Our apprentices also gain a unique insight into a world otherwise hidden behind closed doors and take on the responsibility of being entrusted with access to top secret information. It can be daunting at first, but they quickly get used to it," said GCHQ, which noted that it's particularly keen to encourage applications from women and ethnic minorities.

Apprentices will also have to go through what GCHQ describes as "a rigorous, but fair, vetting process", and will also have to keep their plans to apply quiet.

"You should not discuss your application for this apprenticeship, other than with your immediate family, providing that they are British. They should also be made aware of the importance of discretion. You should not post on social media sites about your application or discuss it with anyone else at this stage," the agency warns.

The closing date for both schemes is 14 November 2016.


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