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back to article Her Majesty's Secret Service opens a Q-Branch apprentice scheme

A scheme to recruit technical apprentices to work in MI5*, MI6** and UK communications spook central GCHQ*** is now open and accepting applications. Successful Q-Branch apprentices will do paid work tackling cyber threats and organised crime, deep in the intelligence service headquarters in Cheltenham and London. The young …

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Mushroom

Working for 'Universal Exports' surely?

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Big Brother

As Yes Minister taught us...

"Giving information to Moscow is serious. Giving information to anyone is serious. Some information would do Britain less harm if given to the Kremlin than if given to the Cabinet."

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Anonymous Coward

Why

I can't help wondering what the attraction for a recent grad would be apart from desperation at inability to find a proper job. As alluded in the story, it's not going to do much for anyone's future prospects and I would venture that the pay will be minimum wage, overtime will need to be approved in triplicate including the signature of a Grade V (/his PA), the required equipment will never be forthcoming and getting useful stuff done will be mostly an exercise in futility and managing personal frustration.

There are many non/semi classified government jobs at establishments all over the country that will equally satisfy all the above fetishes but with the added bonus of having something to talk about at parties.

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Re: Why

"I can't help wondering what the attraction for a recent grad would be"

Firstly, they're only looking for A-Levels, so not graduates, this is instead of university.

Secondly, some people are attracted to this kind of work, it's a vocation not a career. Successful applicants may even get their own Mary Goodnight one day...

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Silver badge

Re: Why

WLTM red-haired Russian lady . . .

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Re: Why

Because having done the scheme, suitable candidates will find themselves with skills and experience that is still valuable in the private sector. Especially to companies contracting those people back to the government on secure projects. The services will probably still struggle to retain staff whilst pay rates and cost of living are high and the private sector can pay more.

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Re: Why

Ah, decisions, decisions.

A red head like Anna Chapman, or a Brunette like Alyona Minkovski...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why

I'm 20yrs old. I'm a geek. I love it, but I don't want to go University. Guess what I'm gonna do.

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"The young hopefuls need three A-levels, two at C or above in a science, maths or engineering subject to be considered."

Wow, are the barriers to entry that high? At least two Cs or above? Clearly they're attracting the best of the best here.

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Sometimes though

Qualifications though don't necessarily equate to intelligence, especially when it comes to computers. I would say the qualifications they ask for are just to ensure that the people applying have a decent ability to learn which even at A-Level grade C they will have.

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Anonymous Coward

So someones potential relies purely on grades? Try telling that to the Wright Brothers.

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Re: Sometimes though

I'm not saying they always do, but in those fields I think they're pretty good indicators. I wouldn't say that two grade Cs at A-level (speaking as someone who got BBBC.. if you also include the virtually meaningless General Studies one) is a high enough bar for determining the people who are going to keep us safe from those who want to kill us in terrifically nasty ways.

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Gold badge

Re: Sometimes though

"Qualifications though don't necessarily equate to intelligence"

In this case, I think the word you're looking for is "ingenuity", and yes, that is a *bastard* to find. The biggest problem is that the clever ones tend to be exactly the misfits that HR filters out (and are classically the ones I get on with, go figure :).

I know one guy who has a couple of businesses, and during a speech he mentioned he has one department which was full of people "none of you would employ" (to his audience). "They don't know what office hours are, we had to make the canteen free so they would at least eat properly, not a chance on imposing a dress codes, and they don't exactly take well to management either. However", he went on, "they are worth every penny I pay them. It doesn't matter what the problem is - if I give it to them they WILL solve it, usually improving things along the way. From their solutions alone I make more money than the rest of my businesses put together. All it takes is giving them problems and leaving them alone. So, thank you all for not employing them."

I don't think I have to add that this guy still makes serious money.

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Silver badge

Re: Sometimes though

"I wouldn't say that two grade Cs at A-level is a high enough bar for determining the people who are going to keep us safe from those who want to kill us in terrifically nasty ways.

I'm not sure how anybody can believe that A levels or any other exam are indicative of either talent or trustworthiness. If SIS want to find the right people, then (a) they need to stop their civil service worrying about grades, and (b) they need to be more proactive about finding the right kind of people. To my mind, if SIS need to advertise, then they are in a very bad way, talent wise.

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Re: Sometimes though

I often wonder what grades Galileo would have got in astrology, given his ridiculous thinking that the Earth wasn't the center of the Universe.

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Not always about qualifucations

The cleverest person I know failed his degree as the pressures he'd placed upon himself finally gave way and he had a breakdown.

That didn't stop him as he still managed to get a job at Ferranti working on missile guidance systems, then he started working on motorised fully articulated limbs, kind of robocop tech.

Now he's packed it all in and empties bins in Adelaide whilst doing a PHD in something religious...

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Dont discuss this application except with partner or family...

So how long before someone posts it to a family member on twatter or assplant? Taking all bets...

Brazilian electrical engineering grads need not apply.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Dont discuss this application except with partner or family...

It's a selection criteria. It is not totally important that apprentices at GCHQ are not publicly known. After all, their security clearance is going to be diddly-squat. But requiring them to keep it secret allows you to kick out the total idiots before they learn anything that might matter.

You might get some daft terrorist cell trying to lean on them, but that gives you more visibility on them with little risk. Even if the apprentice agrees to work for the terrorists, they are already self-selected to be incompetent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dont discuss this application except with partner or family...

Actually, the smart ones know it's not just for the protection of the nation they need to keep their trap shut, it's also for their own safety and that of their family. Tends to be a more powerful argument.

The only thing you need to do with people in such a position is to ensure they can report attempts to blackmail or obtain favours, because it may indicate they have been found out as being employed somewhere interesting. If they cannot report that immediately, you end up with the risk that they are slowly compromised.

The worst people to employ in such areas are those with unstable egos, which is what the psych profiling seeks to unearth. Personally I rather like the shadow side - it's much more fun *not* being in the spotlight, life's more interesting.

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Bronze badge
Big Brother

Re: Dont discuss this application except with partner or family...

Everyone in Cheltenham knows people who work in the doughnut, it's not really much of a secret. WHAT they do there is usually kept quieter, although most people will admit to having a boring office job, which is practically indistinguishable from any other civil service job.

This isn't James Bond, this is the government, most people who work there have very uninteresting jobs.

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Bronze badge
Mushroom

Their employees can't be all that intelligent when you look at the rates of pay quoted for these jobs....

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Anonymous Coward

Pay

Have you seen the rates of pay for Army Intelligence Corps and equivalents in Air Force / Navy?

Yet these people still do masses of intel work to keep people safe, stuff that never reaches the press, 24/7. Some then move into GCHQ and see the role/deliverable and massive job satisfaction as worth far more than just the pay packet.

Yes they should be paid more, but they should also be supported & not put down.

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Having employees strongly motivated by money in the intelligence community would be a security risk.

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Wow, think how intelligent Wayne Rooney must be, what with his reported £200k+ per week an' all.

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Re: Pay

Over here in 'Merika the system is.

Get hired on crap wage for this sort of job. Sit around in empty room playing angry birds for 6months while they process your security clearance. Leave and get hired as contractor by defense company

All the contracted out jobs need a security clearance, but it's incredibly difficult/expensive for a private company to get one, so you need to hire away government workers. The government workers all know this so it doesn't matter how incompetent they are, so long as they have the golden ticket they can work for you.

Nobody has ever worked out who does the actual work. We think it might be umpa-loompas, or aliens - or probably the chinese.

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Big Brother

Great

I'll polish off my diploma in computing from the OU (thats gotta worth 2 C grade A levels) and get applying, And I'll have the advantage of having working for the MoD before in a restricted area

<Interviewer> "What do you do for the MoD?"

<Me> "sorry , that information is need to know only"

<Interviewer> "well that passes you for the security test.... shame about the personality profile test"

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Coat

Typo

Surely that should read either "Properly NOT known as the Secret Intelligence Service" or "Properly known as the Not-Very-Secret Intelligence Service"..?

< Mine's the one with stuff in a cunningly-concealed secret pocket >

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Anonymous Coward

Working for the security services is a bit like the hotel california...

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave...

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Low A level grades

Having been through a interview for something at the MOD. I can say the interview process is sufficiently tough to work out whether you have the essential skills such as ingenuity

I've worked with old engineers who started out as trainee fitters and I've seen them knock up solutions for plant in factories by just gathering bits and sticking it together that left me as someone who has been to uni at an engineering course feeling rather humbled.

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FAIL

MI5 clearly need to hire new web developers (or QAers)

i've just clicked the "MI5 careers" ad on your site, which takes me to https://www.mi5.gov.uk/careers/current-jobs/job.aspx?id=195. Scrolling to the bottom of the page, you can see DoubleClick ad code appearing in the copy for the job due to a closing body tag in a "comment". I guess they need better web developers, or better QA.

If they can't put out web pages without such basic, glaring errors, it makes me wonder what else they're cutting corners on...

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