Radical plans created by Britain’s security services will see school leavers recruited as “trainee spies” to form a new generation of espionage experts.
MI5, MI6 and GCHQ will hire dozens of apprentices – as young as 18 – to help tackle future threats to national security.
The two-year programme, which will start next September, will provide trainees with a sound understanding of issues such as cyber threats, espionage, organised crime and terrorism. The candidates must be British citizens and will have to undergo demanding screening checks before being trained in subjects like engineering, mobile phone systems and telecommunications.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock insisted the move was part of a wider drive to offer young people an alternative route into careers conventionally only open to graduates. He also revealed that a new apprenticeship in “space engineering”, which will train students in subjects such as satellite technology, will launch in January. Accountancy, financial services, law and IT are among the other higher level apprenticeships.
Talking to The Telegraph, Mr Hancock advised that school leavers consider a university degree or an “ambitious” apprenticeship after leaving school. His comments come soon after the president of the Girls’ Schools Association said that private school students could no longer be “sniffy” about apprenticeships as an alternative choice to university.
“These higher-level courses are symbolic of a wider movement: the rebirth of apprenticeships as a route not only to a better entry-level job, but into the boardroom,” he said.