back to article GCHQ is having problems meeting Osborne's 2020 recruitment target

Blighty's surveillance and security agency GCHQ is facing significant challenges in meeting the government's targets for recruitment over the next four years. Last year the chancellor promised that 1,900 new recruits would be hired by the intelligence agencies by 2020 – with the lion's share expected to head to GCHQ in …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Then again...

    TBH when China is funding, designing and building our nuclear reactors, what's the point of infosec?

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Then again...

      Not just that - how many cheap Chinese IP cameras and routers have backdoors lurking in the firmware?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Then again...

        I heard 5 rolled out snazzy new desk phones, then found there were Chinese sourced ICs inside and had to memo staff not to use the phones except for idle chit-chat

        1. x 7

          Re: Then again...

          " then found there were Chinese sourced ICs inside"

          try finding a phone that doesn't have chinese chips inside

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Then again...

            try finding a phone that doesn't have chinese chips inside

            James May reassembled one on Tuesday.

            1. x 7

              Re: Then again...

              "James May reassembled one on Tuesday."

              a little bit too analog for modern tastes methinks

  2. nematoad Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Well said!

    "Specific pay and reward details cannot be disclosed for national security reasons,"

    That's a brilliant way of handling things. Just smother any unpleasant facts with the blanket of "national security". No-one will notice.

    Could it be that they have something to hide?

    Like crap pay and prospects.

    PR?

    They might know how to spell it, but don't ask, it's probably a secret.

    1. Vic

      Re: Well said!

      "Specific pay and reward details cannot be disclosed for national security reasons,"

      That's a brilliant way of handling things.

      Especially when you consider that specific pay and reward details are on their website...

      The vacancies I've looked at before don't exactly fill me with the deire to apply.

      Vic.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twice applied and twice turned down. They are getting on average 35 applicants a day. Their HR dept is overwhelmed that they have had to recruit temps in. The doughnut according to a senior manager there is full to capacity. They have opened a new site in Manchester which just seems to be filled with hackers and script kiddies. They only seem interested in graduates who they can pay £25k to programme.

    Knowing that they only stay on to gain experience then jump ship and get paid x4 the amount at somewhere like Google, Microsoft et al. Even though you can't put it in so many words on your CV that you have worked there.

    To take someone on at GCHQ costs about £10K including all the clearances.

    Oh and then there is the drugs test they conduct which usually consists of a 'hair sample' (not pubic) which also means they have a sample of your DNA on file.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh and then there is the drugs test they conduct which usually consists of a 'hair sample' (not pubic) which also means they have a sample of your DNA on file.

      Not necessarily, a straight hair cutting is dodgy for accurate DNA profiling even with modern techniques, although it will reveal a history of drug use. Moral - go hairless :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only 25K?

      Good grief, S***o pay more than that!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "They only seem interested in graduates who they can pay £25k to programme."

      Aldi apparently pay graduate trainees over £40k, which may tell you something.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. energystar

      "...seems to be filled with hackers and script kiddies."

      You must be 'kidding' us. Do they prefer a 5d/w kid than a 2d/w senior?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        "...seems to be filled with hackers and script kiddies." is a recipe for disasters

        Howdy, energystar,

        Crack Coders and Script Genii are more than just an opportunity and solution for sub-prime Key Intelligence Community Supply Chains ….. Spooky Intellectually Challenged Dark Web Networks, which may or may not be GCHQ type systems default ……. and that is a global vulnerability available for exploit and expansion and monetisation and export?

        Yes, such sure is.

  4. BurnT'offering

    The difficulty with recruiting spies

    is knowing whether you have succeeded

  5. NG87

    ha, maybe the government should re-evaluate pay.... , there are people that have the skills GCHQ needs but these people also know their value which is something the government fails to address . Around this time last year i remember looking at the careers page for one of the Intel agencies in London , they were looking for essentially a pretty senior pen-tester/red team member. The salary offered was in the range of 35K which is absolutely crap. Someone with the skillet they wanted could easily get 60K in the private sector so why on earth would they ever go to work for the government?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The security services have always relied on people willing to give up the money to do the job for love of country.

      Admittedly the country in question was normally the USSR - but you can't have eveything

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. BurnT'offering

          Re: The civil service will eat you alive - it just takes a few decades to digest you.

          Yes, I can see why the concept of public service would hold little appeal for you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Admittedly the country in question was normally the USSR

        Philby was on the fringes of the British upper classes. Despite which and despite working for SIS, he preferred to be a double agent for the USSR, and was especially proud that he had spied on the Americans for the USSR but also passed on the information to SIS.

        I think that says quite a lot about the British establishment, and the events of the last week show that when it comes to "love of country" the Establishment still knows all about it, and where its country can stick it.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Admittedly the country in question was normally the USSR

          Time to learn German and move to dog-eating Switzerland because my 200Mb/s Virgin cable service is too slow to read the Register.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they need NSA approval?

    I recall Jacob Appelbaum describing the attempt of GCHQ to recruit him. He mentioned (paraphrasing) that they view themselves as the deciders, but they also mentioned that he shouldn't worry because all their hires are cleared through NSA (Jacobs an American).

    I can't find it quickly again (long videos). It was in either this video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNsePZj_Yks

    Or this one (a must watch*):

    http://boingboing.net/2013/12/31/jacob-appelbaums-must-watch.html

    But that is an issue, because its in the interests of the NSA to spy on its friends and ensure they stay on USA message. GCHQ's duty is to protect UK from such surveillance. So there's a conflict of interests there. And it would mean NSA would get to reject people who might view their surveillance activities as detrimental to the UK.

    So is that the case, does NSA vet GCHQ hires? Because that's an issue of UK security!

    * Note (off this topic) the 15 years part at 18:44 in this video, this is a video from 2013, 15 years is 1998. This surveillance began before 911 before the Patriot act, they were drag netting content and metadata.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Do they need NSA approval?

      It was the late 90s when it was reaffirmed that the NSA could only monitor offshore, so they and GCHQ came up with the deal to spy for each other.

      However Echelon was well established anyway and the Five Eyes had been working together since the war and sharing most things.

  7. Omar Smith
    Joke

    GCHQ is having problems meeting recruitment targets.

    GCHQ is having problems meeting recruitment targets because no one wants to work for a bunch of crypto fascists.

    1. MonkeyCee

      Re: GCHQ is having problems meeting recruitment targets.

      "GCHQ is having problems meeting recruitment targets because no one wants to work for a third rate bunch of crypto fascists."

      FTFY

      GCHQ can't offer the best money or best opportunities out of the intelligence agencies, let alone private sector.

      A US based "get out of jail free" card is probably of more use than a UK one.

      One presumes also that a highly competent engineer with a deep love of their country would be better off serving the intelligence agencies whilst working at Slurpygooglebook.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GCHQ is having problems meeting recruitment targets.

      I hear Rimmer applied seventeen times.

  8. Someone_Somewhere

    Surely

    the kind of person who has the desired talent/skills is already aware that they can make a much better living as one of the very people the TLAs would like them to track down.

    Or perhaps they're smart enough to know that they'll get easier access to the kind of info/intel that will make them rich while they play-act being underappreciated/underpaid TLA drones.

    Wheels within wheels within wheels, perhaps?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely

      "Wheels within wheels within wheels, perhaps?"

      You may remember they were experimenting with keeping staff in suitcases while off duty to ensure they didn't work for anyone else, but there was a technical problem.

      Yes, tasteless remark, but no apologies.

  9. jasper pepper

    Usual bollox spouted by management, it was ever so....

    Lack of people with the skills they seek? No.

    Inadequate salaries offered to those they seek? Yes.

  10. Bob Rocket

    'Why shouldn't I work for GCHQ ?'

    'That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot.'

  11. Robert Grant Silver badge

    “...a lack of available talent in some specialist fields..."

    Translation: plenty of mediocre managers and architects lining up for easy cash, but no-one to do any of the actual work?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “...a lack of available talent in some specialist fields..."

      I did consider applying for the Administrative Civil Service when I left U but was warned "the Civil Service believes scientists should be on tap, not on top."

  12. pnony
    Coat

    "Specific pay and reward details cannot be disclosed for national security reasons,"

    That rather reminds me of the standard retort to manglement demands to not disclose one's salary: "Don't worry, I'm just as embarrassed about it as you are."

  13. energystar

    Not in Intelligence but yes on Public Service.

    Doing it won't make you rich -not even financially 'stable'-. Neither build you 'a career'. Here you'll find the same b&$#&*%& you'll find everywhere. And the 'serviceable' 'fast-trackers' also [the most dangerous kind of Service Men]. And the 'self-serving' also.

    But at no other job you'll have a better chance to do the right thing, for the right reason. And no, nobody will force you to do the wrong thing -I assure you-. And yes, I have a my tin foil hat well placed, also.

    And no, I you don't come and help, nobody will.

    You can throw me the rocks now.

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is an Horrendously Expensive Mistake to Fail to Cover Up

    And GCHQ still have an abiding elephant in the room problem which guarantees they will always be chasing and searching for star quality talent rather than showcasing and reaping the benefits from its engagement ..... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Gareth_Williams

    But at no other job you'll have a better chance to do the right thing, for the right reason. And no, nobody will force you to do the wrong thing -I assure you-. And yes, I have a my tin foil hat well placed, also. .... energystar

    Doing the right thing is always risky, energystar, whenever so many are wedded to the wrong things.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Every Silver Cloud has a Stormy CHAOS* Lining

      And the farcical pantomimes and dark webbed tragic comedies of errors and missteps continue .... ad infinitum/nauseam ....... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/09/spies-set-to-start-vetting-chilcot-inquiry-report-next-prompting/

      * Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems

      You do realise that somebody/something makes all of this up, and Multi Functional Media and ICT trail and trial it for mass consumption and perception management. IT's a Great IntelAIgents Game and although Essentially in the Same Format as the Old Phormer Great Game, Fundamentally Entirely Different and Better with AI Betas in Virtual Machine Command and Control of Systems and SCADA Executive Office Administrations.

      Welcome ..... to Virtually Real Worlds with Open Source Marketing Spaces for Controlling Places.

      1. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: Every Silver Cloud has a Stormy CHAOS* Lining

        If only it were funny!

        http://despair.com/products/pessimism

      2. energystar

        Those little note snippets on Sundays News. The more telling...

        Some years ago. A new generation of US diplomatics at the Vatican... Scandalized about the generalized lack of digital 'assistants'. Work to do. The classic way. Oh God! [No THAT God inside Saint Peter, of course].

        No need to be an insider, to perceive intention.

        And no, it's not Matrix [Is this just youth, or plain arrogance?]. You know people feel and hates this ambiance.

        Perception Management... What are you teaching at those 'elite' centers?

      3. Omar Smith

        Re: Every Silver Cloud has a Stormy CHAOS* Lining

        You're your own one man cult.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: "You're your own one man cult." ....... Omar Smith

          Hi, Omar,

          You might like this ....... https://youtu.be/J5pFf27OtPM

          There's a lot going on out there here and in cyberspaces, which are virtually real places and haunting and daunting command and control centres which do not suffer fools' ways and means and crazy memes ....... and to battle to oppose and/or depose the very best of them is to tilt at windmills and prove yourself mad as a hatter and totally unfit for Future Greater IntelAIgent Games purpose.

    2. energystar
      IT Angle

      No expectatives for Cover Up.

      You are right on comment, amanfromMars1, but so do I. Those chances don't even exist within for profit Corporations.

  15. Trollslayer
    Thumb Down

    Crap place, crap money, crap management

    I had an interview there years ago, years of pay freeze and rubbish pension.

    HR were like scared rabbits and the electric wheelchairs they had sat in a corner with dead batteries and flat tyres, they had been like that for God knows how long. I reported it and was ignored.

    Then all the internal politics and racism...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Crap place, crap money, crap management

      Think that's bad? Take a look at the Quim-eti-Queue that RSRE has become

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crap place, crap money, crap management

        Well at least the top echelon of RSRE got to be millionaires when they sold it to the Yanks

        Auditors condemn rushed MoD sale that turned civil servants into multimillionaires

        http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/nov/21/military.immigrationpolicy

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NSA hits back at poor recruitment rumors

    GCHQ hits back after claims it won’t meet recruitment targets

    Mon, 11 Apr 2016

    Intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has refuted claims it is having difficulty hitting its target of 1,900 new recruits by 2020.

    News website The Register, quoting independent sources close to GCHQ, [Mrs Goggins?] reported the intelligence agency is struggling to land the best candidates for roles, with one source claiming they simply didn't know where new talent was going to come from.

    But a GCHQ spokesperson said in a statement the agency has a “very healthy” recruitment pipeline, with a “large number” of talented applicants for available vacancies.

    However, the spokesperson added the agency was not resting on its laurels and did acknowledge that the graduate jobs market is becoming increasingly competitive.

    GCHQ attributes this to the private sector’s ability to offer higher pay, and a lack of available talent in some specialist fields.

    In order to tackle this problem, the spokesperson said GCHQ is working with universities and training providers to ensure recruits are equipped to work at the agency.

    GCHQ is also increasing pre-graduate recruitment, via its higher apprenticeship schemes, undergraduate placements and internships.

    allegedly, according to

    http://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2016/04/gchq-hits-back-after-claims-it-wont-meet-recruitment-targets/

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