Government could recruit specialists with autism to guard against reputational damage of cyber attacks

The Government will recruit specialist apprentices, including candidates "on the autism spectrum", to help guard against what the Chancellor describes as the "reputational damage" from cyber attacks.

The Government is recruiting cyber specialists to guard against future data breaches
The Government is recruiting cyber specialists to guard against future data breaches
Twenty-five people will be recruited as cyber security technologist apprentices in the coming months, according to Jon Ashton, director of cyber security and information risks at HMRC. 

The new apprenticeships will be funded by the National Cyber Security Programme and are part of a wider response to the "need to upskill our people and ensure we have a strong talent pipeline for the future."

People with autism – sometimes linked with an enhanced ability for mathematical patterns and computing – will be among those considered for the roles.

A unit in HMRC is delivering the cyber security apprenticeship scheme and the recruitment process will be focussed on the "applicant's strengths, numerical reasoning and technical aptitude". 

Ashton added: "Additionally, we took a more inclusive approach on social mobility, gender balance and those on the autism spectrum."

He disclosed details of the new scheme in a government blog this month, in which he commented: "We plan to engage with other government departments, who will bid for cyber apprentices, in January 2017. This ensures that promotion, attraction and recruitment align with the academic year, with apprenticeships beginning in September 2017."

Ashton added: "Ideally the apprentices will be recruited on permanent contracts across government. This will help with retention of these critical cyber skills, and develop them further to become experts of the future."

The recruitment drive comes just months after Chancellor Philip Hammond warned of the dangers posed by cyber attacks, including "reputational damage", as well as "threats to the infrastructure of the state itself."

Speaking ahead of the launch of the government's National Cyber Security Strategy last November, Hammond added: "To make sure we’ve got a pipeline talented of people with the cyber skills we need, we will increase investment in the next generation of students, experts and companies."


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