Modern intelligence work has as much to do with computers and smartphones as martinis and Walther PPKs. As Q boasted to James Bond in Skyfall: “I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.”
Now British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ are looking for the next generation of young tech wizards. Under a new “spook first” scheme, ambitious young graduates would train with GCHQ, on the understanding that they could later leave the service and use their skills to set up their own tech companies.
It’s understood the scheme is designed to attract entrepreneurs who don’t want to spend their entire life at Her Majesty’s secret service, as well as stimulating Britain’s tech sector with highly skilled young blood. After all, who knows more about computer security?
The Independent reports the scheme is loosely based on the ‘Teach First’ programme, where graduates take up teaching positions for two years before having the option of leaving for high paying jobs in the private sector.
The scheme is the latest attempt to open up recruitment to the intelligence services. Last month GCHQ launched Cryptoy, an app designed to teach young people the basics of cryptography, and previously the service hosted an online game to find talented new snoopers. Incidentally The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which detailed Alan Turing’s work at the forerunner to GCHQ, was also expected to cause a bump in recruitment.
The government is also reportedly examining whether GCHQ’s technology could have civilian applications, particularly with regard to cyber security, although it’s likely they’ll be keeping the best of Q’s toys to themselves.