Fast Track: A-Z of employers: The Met Office

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The Independent Culture
Age: 148

History: The Met Office began as part of the Board of Trade, led by Vice-Admiral Fitzroy - better known as Captain of the Beagle, which took Darwin on his voyage of discovery. In the early 1900s, the office moved to the Air Ministry; it's still an agency of the Ministry of Defence. But since April 1996, it has operated as a Trading Fund, with one shareholder; the Government.

Address: Based in London Road, Bracknell.

Ambience: Renowned as a friendly organisation with a team environment and with some independent work. Much of the office is open-plan, although there's a dress code and staff are expected to be smart - particularly those who appear on telly.

Vital statistics: The office's annual revenue approaches pounds 155m, with the largest customers the MoD (pounds 54m) and the public Met Service (pounds 36m). It also provides forecasts for commercial customers (pounds 24m). It employs just under 2,200 people in more than 80 locations.

Lifestyle: Staff work 37 hours per week net,. There's also opportunity for foreign travel, especially for conferences and seminars.

Easy to get into? Up to 3,000 graduates apply every year, with just 200 vacancies. You don't, however, need a specific grade of degree. Relevant experience is also taken into consideration. Sandwich placements and summer work experience is also a possibility; graduates should apply by letter, enclosing a CV.

Glittering alumni: Bill Giles, erstwhile television presenter, is just one graduate from the Met Office.

Pay: Starting pay depends on the job and experience. It's decided at interview stage, and pay is thence onward performance-related.

Training: Foundation training is available in R&D, IT or forecasting. There's also training at the Met Office College.

Facilities: Staff canteen, "small" bar, gym, sports and social associations.

Who's the boss? Peter Ewins has been chief executive since August 1997. Before he joined the Met Office, he was MoD Chief Scientist.