The British government on Thursday launched a drive to find and nurture the next generation of code-breakers and computer scientists for the country's intelligence offices.
Foreign Secretary William Hague announced a 480,000 pounds (774,000 U.S. dollars) donation from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which unlocks 5 million pounds of Heritage Lottery Funding, while visiting Britain's spiritual home of code-breaking - Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, northwest of London.
The new apprenticeship scheme aims to recruit Britain's most talented young people into the government communications headquarters (GCHQ) and intelligence agencies.
Through a "more open and flexible online recruitment precess," the government is looking for up to 100 new recruits as intelligence officers, Hague said in a speech to Bletchley veterans, GCHQ staff, cyber experts and trustees.
The scheme will be open to 18-year-olds with three good A levels or an equivalent vocational qualification in science, technology or engineering.
Successful applicants will spend two years learning about communications, security and engineering through university education, technical training and work placements. On graduating, they will enter roles within GCHQ or the other intelligence agencies.
The foreign secretary emphasised that in the face of growing cyber threats, if Britain is to maintain a leading role on cyber issues to enhance the country's economic growth, it "must harness experts from the 'X-Box' generation who have grown up with a world of social media, global connectivity and interactive gaming."
Hague also announced the launch of this year's National Cipher Challenge, an annual competition for schools to inspire young people to think about a career in mathematics and cyber security.
Bletchley Park is the home of the world's first semi-programmable computer, Colossus, and was the center for secret code-breaking efforts during World War II.