IT graduates – the next frontline in defence?

Information technology (IT) is playing a stronger role in military operations than ever before, with programmes focused on capabilities such as C4I, cyber security and communications intelligence assuming ever-larger portions of national defence budgets. And in response firms such as BAE Systems are rolling out programmes to snap up the most talented young IT graduates. Claire Apthorp reports.


Defence IT

The recruitment of the next generation of skilled young IT defence experts is an area into which defence companies such as BAE Systems channel significant resources. The process, according to the company, begins early.

"BAE Systems has strong relationships with many universities all over the UK to attract graduates into the business," a company spokesperson said. "The company's cyber security business, Applied Intelligence, works specifically with twelve specially identified universities across the UK."

Graduates moving into defence IT account for an increasing percentage of the BAE Systems' overall graduate intake each year. While the company is a significant employer of graduates, the exact number varies from year to year depending on demand. In 2015, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence will be recruiting for around 150 graduates, with around 80%of them expected to eventually move into the technical workforce.

Those who wind up in the BAE Systems graduate development programme can expect a varied and dynamic experience with the company, with the programme itself lasting typically between 18 and 24 months. During this time each individual is developed toward a more specialised career path.



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"Unlike some other businesses, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence does not operate a rigid rotation programme," the spokesperson said. "Instead, each graduate will get involved in several different projects to ensure their skills are developed and enhanced.

"To ensure each person's progression is in line with their personal ambition, graduates are assigned a personal career manager or mentor when they start with the company. Throughout the graduate programme, individuals are encouraged to talk to their career mentor about their aspirations to ensure they have an opportunity to participate in projects that will help them towards these goals."

Graduates can also take advantage of a range of ongoing education and training opportunities within the company, depending on their role and long-term career goals, with each individual benefiting from a bespoke programme of training and education throughout the 18 to 24-month graduate development programme.

A career in defence IT

A career in defence IT with a company such as BAE Systems Applied Intelligence gives its experts the opportunity to work across a range of real-world defence technologies, with the company offering technical solutions across four main areas: cyber security, financial crime, communications intelligence and digital transformation.

"BAE Systems Applied Intelligence delivers solutions to help customers protect and enhance their business operations in the connected world," the spokesperson explained. 'The company's solutions combine large-scale data exploitation, 'intelligence-grade' security and complex services and solutions integration.

"Leading enterprises and government departments use BAE Systems Applied Intelligence solutions to protect, secure and optimise their physical infrastructure, mission-critical systems, valuable intellectual property and corporate information, and enhance their reputation and customer relationships, competitive advantage and financial success."

Secure mobility - a growing need

An example of the company's IT defence capabilities is the field of secure mobility, where classified mobility solutions provide front-line operational staff with access to local and global operational and business intelligence systems on the move.

"The need for secure mobility solutions has grown out of the increased use of 'bring-your-own devices' (BYOD)."

The need for secure mobility solutions has grown out of the increased use of 'bring-your-own devices' (BYOD) and the blending of technology for work and personal uses. While these devices are transforming employee productivity and the way organisations do business, a pro-active approach is required to address the security risks associated with these changes. Here, BAE Systems' experience in security technology helps commercial and government clients secure their information, while fully exploiting the opportunities that mobility technologies offer.

Elsewhere, as a global provider of specialist communications and intelligence technologies, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence provides intelligence acquisition, information analysis and network insight generation services. Defence IT experts working in this field help national security and law enforcement clients to gain insight and intelligence from the vast amounts of data they collect.

Learning the new rules

IT defence experts also play a central role in helping clients adapt to the digital age as the pace of technology and service innovation continues to grow.

With government organisations needing to digitise more of their core operations and workforce to become more efficient and agile, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence offers an embedded digital media agency, integrated data science solutions to help clients manage their data as a strategic asset, while also helping clients build digital trust with their users.

Today, IT forms the core of virtually all aspects of military planning, development and operations, and the need to manage, store, analyse and distribute data is an ever-growing challenge as reliance on digital capabilities exponentially increases.

BAE Systems is just one company of many looking to build up its defence IT SQEP to ensure that it can meet the requirements of its government and military customers over the coming decades. If data is king in the digital age, the personnel with the expertise to manage, control and secure that data will form a vital layer in military toolsets.