Scar­bor­ough’s GCHQ in re­cruit­ment drive.

The Scarborough News - - Front Page - by Steve Bam­bridge steve.bam­bridge@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @thescar­boronews

‘There is a huge tal­ent pool of young peo­ple with cy­ber skills, or in­ter­est in them – we can tap into that and ben­e­fit the econ­omy of the North and es­pe­cially Scar­bor­ough’ GCHQ Direc­tor Robert Han­ni­gan

Scar­bor­ough’s GCHQ base at Ir­ton Moor is to be­come the train­ing and skills hub for the North of Eng­land, with a £42m investment an­nounced as the or­gan­i­sa­tion also looks to re­cruit more mid­dle-aged women from the ‘Mum­snet gen­er­a­tion’.

The pack­age was out­lined on Mon­day by Robert Han­ni­gan, direc­tor of the UK’s Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Head­quar­ters, on a visit to the base.

It is to be the train­ing and skills hub of the North­ern net­work of GCHQ, the in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity or­gan­i­sa­tion which mon­i­tors ra­dio and sig­nals com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pro­tects against a wide range of threats, from ter­ror­ism and cy­ber crime to child sex ex­ploita­tion and hack­ing.

Along with MI5 and MI6, there will be an em­pha­sis on re­cruit­ing more women, es­pe­cially mid­dle-aged, mid­ca­reer, dubbed “Jane Bonds”, and the or­gan­i­sa­tion has used web­site Mum­snet for that pur­pose.

Of the £42m in the next four years, £30m will go to­wards the base’s in­fra­struc­ture – mod­ernising and im­prov­ing the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment – and £12m to skills train­ing. The cur­rent staff of about 200 will also be “up­skilled”.

Dur­ing Mon­day’s visit, Mr Han­ni­gan opened the Alan Tur­ing Train­ing and In­no­va­tion Centre (the AT­TIC), a trans­for­ma­tion of part of the ex­ist­ing main block into bright, airy train­ing rooms. Ear­lier, 94-year-old Sis­ter Pamela Hussey cut the rib­bon on a new mu­seum show­cas­ing the base’s proud his­tory. Sis­ter Hussey, who signed up to be a Wren in 1942, was a sta­tion op­er­a­tive in the Sec­ond World War, in­ter­cept­ing ra­dio mes­sages from Ger­man U-boats. Scar­bor­ough’s role was fun­da­men­tal in that con­flict; the sinking of the Bis­marck was down to mes­sages picked up at the lis­ten­ing base.

In front of an au­di­ence of cur­rent staff and 30 or so guests, in­clud­ing dig­ni­taries and GCHQ veter­ans, Mr Han­ni­gan said the Scar­bor­ough base, since its in­cep­tion early last cen­tury, had been one of the “col­lec­tion sites – the crown jew­els of in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing”.

The amaz­ing work it had done through­out the last cen­tury, in two world wars and the Cold War, was con­tin­u­ing. “We will not be able to face the threats and con­flicts with­out the right skills and tal­ents,” he said. Cur­rently, 35 per cent of GCHQem­ploy­ees are women – “we need to re­dress the balance to 5050. We need peo­ple with the right ap­ti­tude, at­ti­tude and pas­sion”.

To that end, the or­gan­i­sa­tion is broad­en­ing its reach, away from just grad­u­ates; it is also lur­ing young school leavers into ap­pren­tice­ships.

The Scar­bor­ough base al­ready runs cy­ber sum­mer schools aimed at young peo­ple who have an in­ter­est in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. Of the up­com­ing in­take, which starts on July 11, there are 18 men and 14 women, re­flect­ing a greater em­pha­sis on re­cruit­ing both sexes. And the base is work­ing closely with Scar­bor­ough’s new Univer­sity Tech­ni­cal Col­lege (UTC) and sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties in­clud­ing the lo­cal cam­pus of Coven­try Univer­sity.

The AT­TIC is named af­ter the Sec­ond World War code­breaker who, af­ter ground­break­ing work by Pol­ish math­e­ma­ti­cians, cracked the Germans’ Enigma code.

A short walk away from the new centre, the new “Y” Sta­tion Mu­seum’s star at­trac­tion is an Enigma ma­chine. The break­ing of those codes by the Al­lies short­ened the war by at least two years, it is said.

In the last cen­tury Scar­bor­ough’s was one of about 150 “Y” sta­tions around the world, who fed their picked-up mes­sages to Bletch­ley Park, the “X” sta­tion.

The mu­seum houses ev­ery­thing from a “Ther­mal Un­du­la­tor Type GP-2” to a mock-up of a 1973 work­sta­tion, com­plete with The Sun news­pa­per. And in one cabi­net the sign: “This Is A Pro­hib­ited Place Within The Mean­ing Of The Of­fi­cial Se­crets Act 1911-1989. You Are Li­able To Ar­rest And Prose­cu­tion If You En­ter The Area”.

That se­crecy still ex­ists to­day, of course, although the or­gan­i­sa­tion is “open­ing up” a lit­tle to the out­side world and un­cov­er­ing its mys­tique; it has just joined Twit­ter.

Cur­rent em­ploy­ees Jane and Deb­bie both joined GCHQ at the age of 36, and spoke of the op­por­tu­ni­ties now avail­able to women, par­tic­u­larly mid­dle-aged.

“It’s chal­leng­ing and in­ter­est­ing, and there’s flex­i­bil­ity if you do have kids – flexi-time and time off for school sports, for ex­am­ple,” said Deb­bie, who was in the RAF for seven years, left to have a fam­ily and wanted to re­turn to a “sense of duty for my coun­try”.

Jane was in tele­coms for 20 years, leav­ing for GCHQ 11 years ago. “I had an en­gi­neer­ing de­gree, but nowa­days there is a shift away from look­ing for STEM sub­jects (Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Maths) to emo­tional in­tel­li­gence and life ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The “Y” Sta­tion Mu­seum is off lim­its to the pub­lic, but Scar­bor­ough’s cen­tral li­brary cur­rently has a dis­play of GCHQ arte­facts, un­til midAu­gust.

Robert Han­ni­gan, the di­rec­tor of GCHQ, opens the Alan Tur­ing Train­ing and In­no­va­tion Cen­tre dur­ing his visit to the Scar­bor­ough base. 162901e PIC­TURES BY RICHARD PON­TER

1. En­trance to GCHQ Scar­bor­ough. 2. Dis­play of a 1973 work­sta­tion in the “Y” Sta­tion Mu­seum. 3. The Scar­bor­ough base mon­i­tors global com­mu­ni­ca­tions. 4. Robert Han­ni­gan ad­dress­ing staff and guests on Mon­day.

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