Having neglected the home of wartime codebreaking since it packed up and left with the end of hostilities, it looks like the Foreign Office is Turing over a new leaf – Foreign Secretary William Hague paid a visit to Bletchley Park on Thursday to make a couple of announcements that will please both amateur and more serious codebreakers.
First of all, Mr Hague announced a gift of £480,000 from the Foreign Office to the Bletchley Park Trust, which unlocks £5m in match-funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Bletchley Park Trust has been working enormously hard to raise enough to hit that £5m target, so this will be very welcome indeed.
Of course, Government doesn’t just give money away for no reason. That’s where the second announcement comes in: new SIA Apprenticeships, which will sponsor aspiring spooks through a two-year course involving “university education, technical training and work placements” and into jobs either at GCHQ or the other intelligence agencies, as part of an opening-up of the recruitment process at Britain’s sneakiest institutions.
The apprenticeships are open to 18-year-olds with three ‘A’ Levels, two of which must be a grade C or above in a STEM subject. Successful apprentices end up with a Foundation degree and a job offer, but the Foreign Office press release is keen to point out that they’re still looking for mathematicians with a more conventional university maths background.
UK to invest in a future generation of code-breakers – Foreign Office press release