MI5 Laying Off ‘Bonds’ To Hire More Techie ‘Qs’

It seems that the head of MI5 may sympathise with his fictional counterpart “M” who once described veteran spy James Bond as a “dinosaur” and “a relic of the cold war”.

According to reports in The Daily Telegraph this week, Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5 recently told a Parliamentary committee that some of the organisation’s current staff lack the IT skills to keep pace with the UK’s increasingly technically adept enemies.

The moves have prompted jokes about “a James Bond generation” of spies being retired in favour of more IT-literate spies, the paper reported.

MI5 seeks tech professionals

To counter the problem it appears that MI5 is looking to hire individuals who might be closer in their skill-set to the technically-minded “Q” – James Bond’s gadget obsessed quartermaster than the eponymous spy himself. “I think some of the staff perhaps aren’t quite the ones that we will want for the future,” Evans reportedly told the intelligence and security committee, the Telegraph reported.

The agency is planning to introduce a programme of voluntary and compulsory redundancies in order to free up space to introduce a new generation of more IT-literate operatives, Evans said. MI5 has around 3,500 officers and aims to recruit a further 600 next year, according to he Telegraph. A limited number of redundancies are expected, the paper said.

Last month, the Ministry Of Defence gave a glimpse of some high-tech military equipment that wouldn’t be out of place in Q’s laboratory. Showcased at the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, the devices include an unmanned surveillance system dubbed “Little Owl” that could stay airborne for up to three months, thanks to an innovative “buoyancy propulsion system” and the use of so-called conductive textiles as a way improve the efficiency of powering weapons, radios or charging batteries.

The MOD also tried to get young people excited in the possibilities of technology and engineering by showcasing the current wave of machines used for mine-clearing, similar to those featured in the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker.

Late last year, the GCHQ arm of Britain’s intelligence services announced plans to run an advertising campaign within Xbox Live online games in order to attract suitable people to its ranks. GCHQ stands for the Government Communications Headquarters, and is a British intelligence agency based in Cheltenham responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) to the UK government and armed forces.

Andrew Donoghue

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