UK spy recruiters target the 'Xbox generation'

The next real-life James Bond could be straight out of a UK school. Photo / supplied
The next real-life James Bond could be straight out of a UK school. Photo / supplied

If you imagine British spies are recruited with a discreet tap on the shoulder in the colleges of Oxford or Cambridge, think again.

For the first time, the UK secret services are looking to recruit dozens of school-leavers for apprenticeships.

Bosses are looking for as many as 100 recruits as young as 18 to take a "degree in spying" instead of going to university.

They say they are keen to dispel the "myth" that a career in the intelligence services is "the preserve of privately educated men".

The Foreign Office said it wanted to harness the talents of the 'Xbox generation' who have grown up with social networking sites, global internet connections and interactive gaming.

Recruits will be mainly based at GCHQ, the electronic communications agency. But some will work for MI6 or MI5.

They will be paid an unspecified salary as well as earning a foundation degree as they train.

William Hague unveiled the scheme yesterday during a visit to Bletchley Park - GCHQ's Second World War predecessor.

The Foreign Secretary compared the role of the new recruits to that of the Buckinghamshire base's famous 'code-breakers', who cracked the Enigma codes used by the Nazis.

He said cyber-warfare was "one of the greatest challenges of our time" and that he wanted to find the "young innovators" who would be able to help confront it.

Candidates need three A-levels or equivalent qualification, including at least two C grades in a science, technology or maths subject.

They will embark on a two-year training programme which will include desk-based study as well as work placements.

They will earn a foundation degree course in communications, security and engineering at De Montfort University in Leicester as well as a level diploma in IT.

A GCHQ spokesman said: "Candidates won't just be working with the very latest technology, they will be involved in creating it."

- DAILY MAIL

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