Bond ambitions... Hague launches spy apprenticeship

Foreign secretary William Hague launched a bid to turn the X-Box generation into apprentice spies during a visit to the spiritual home of codebreaking, Bletchley Park.

Mr Hague, who also announced a £480,000 donation to help secure the park’s future, set out details of a new apprenticeship scheme to recruit 100 of Britain’s most talented tech-friendly young people into the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the intelligence agencies.

The top Tory minister said: “Young people are the key to our country’s future success, just as they were during the war. 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.”

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Following a successful pilot scheme, the first young apprentices will walk through the doors of GCHQ this autumn. Open to 18 year olds with three good A levels, or an equivalent vocational qualification in science, technology or engineering, successful applicants will spend two years learning about communications, security and engineering through university education, technical training and work placements. On graduating they will enter roles within GCHQ or the other intelligence agencies. Young people can find out more on the GCHQ Careers website.

Mr Hague also launched the National Cipher Challenge, an annual competition for schools to inspire young people into career sin mathematics and cyber security.

The challenge is run by the maths department at Southampton University, and sponsored by GCHQ. Prizes will be awarded at Bletchley Park in April 2013, including a top prize of £1,000. =