GCHQ Apprenticeship is announced at Bletchley Park by William Hague

William HagueToday the new GCHQ Apprenticeship is announced at Bletchley Park by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary. To launch this innovative apprenticeship scheme Mr Hague will talk about the need for a future generation of codebreakers and praise those who worked at Bletchley Park during World War 2.

It is apt that the announcement is at Bletchley Park, the World War 2 home of the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS), which was later renamed to Government Code Headquarters (GCHQ) and is now based in Cheltenham. Another key reason for holding the event at Bletchley Park is because Mr Hague is able to announce £480,000 of Government funding for the Bletchley Park Trust, which will open up a further £5 million in funding

Traditionally the way into the Intelligence Services was by recruitment during University. However, during the World War 2 GC&CS at Bletchley Park recruited from a diverse range of backgrounds. Not everyone was an academic genius recruited from Oxford or Cambridge.

There were rich society girls who were recruited from family connections but also the diverse range of backgrounds of the women recruited from the services, the WRNS, WAAF and ATS and by the Foreign Office. Local Bletchley residents were also recruited in various roles and it’s this melting pot of skills and backgrounds that made Bletchley unique and successful.

This new GCHQ Apprenticeship will also be looking beyond background to find those that will best fit the organisation. It hopes to recruit and train applicants at a much younger age.

Based in Cheltenham, the two-year Higher Apprenticeship programme will be recruiting approximately 100 British students that, of September 2012, will be eighteen and have obtained three A levels, with at least two A levels in grades A-C in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. Salary starts at£17, 066.

GCHQ (photo from GCHQ website)

There will be a university delivered education, specific technical training and work based placements and projects. Students will get hands on experience building and maintaining some of the world’s most sophisticated electrical/electronic equipment. This work will help the ‘government can operate in cyber space with confidence and stay ahead of the swift pace demanded by the evolving digital world’.

Some of the subjects covered include,

  • Programming
  • ICT Infrastructure (computer systems, operating systems, hardware)
  • Information Assurance
  • Object Orientated Software design and development
  • Forensics and security (Linux and Windows systems)
  • Telecommunications
  • Web applications / internet protocols / databases

Students who successfully complete the GCHQ Apprenticeship leave with a foundation degree in communications Systems, Security and Computing and a level 4 diploma in IT Professional Competence.

IMPORTANT NOTE – the way for an applicant to instantly fail the recruitment drive is to post on Facebook or Twitter that they’ve applied!

If you’d like to know more about the application process (or be nosey like me) go to GCHQ recruitment page here.

Mr Hague also praises the work carried out at Bletchley Park during World War 2. A number of Bletchley Park veterans were present as were Bletchley Park Trustees. You can read the speech he gave at Bletchley Park here.

Charlotte Webb is one of the veterans invited to hear Mr Hague speak today. She has promised to write about her day for the Bletchley Park Research website.

2012 is a great year for Charlotte – she has also met the Queen and been on Celebrity Masterchef.

Charlotte was home schooled in rural Shropshire. She visited Germany in 1937 as part of a student exchange and experienced the Nazi regime first hand. It was her knowledge of German that took Charlotte from the ATS (Women’s Territorial Army) training camp to Bletchley Park in 1942, where she worked for Major Tester and then in the Japanese Section. It was here work in the Japanese Section that led Charlotte to the Pentagon after VE day to continue her work as war still raged in the Pacific.

You can read more about Charlotte’s journey here and buy a copy of her fascinating memoir, Secret Postings: Bletchley Park to the Pentagonhere.

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