BOSSES at GCHQ are looking for young computer gamers to train as the next generation of cyber experts.
The Cheltenham- based government listening post will take on up to 100 apprentices as it tries to tackle the growth of computer crime and terrorism.
And it is hoped the scheme will help attract youngsters who have grown up immersed in the internet and computer gaming.
Foreign Secretary William Hague unveiled details of the new apprenticeship scheme during a visit to GCHQ's predecessor, Bletchley Park, where code-breakers helped to shorten the Second World War.
He also launched this year's National Cipher Challenge, an annual competition for schools to inspire young people into thinking about a future career in mathematics and cyber security.
Mr Hague, who was accompanied on his visit by GCHQ director Iain Lobban, met Bletchley veterans.
Mr Hague said: "Without the men and women of GCHQ and our other intelligence agencies, we could not protect Britain today.
"It is part of the living legacy of Bletchley Park that Britain today is an international leader in cyber security.
"We are determined to preserve this legacy and build on it for the future.
"It will be the young innovators of this generation who will help keep our country safe in years to come against threats which are every bit as serious as some of those confronted in the Second World War."
Following a successful pilot scheme, the first young apprentices will walk through the doors of GCHQ this autumn.
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 courses, technical training and work placements.
On graduating they will enter roles within GCHQ or the other intelligence agencies.
It comes against a backdrop of difficulties GCHQ has in retaining staff because it cannot match the pay and perks of Microsoft and Google.
Mr Lobban added: "The announcement concerning apprenticeships and mathematics recruitment should ensure that GCHQ continues to develop the skills and attract the talent it needs to meet today's challenges around cyber security."