GCHQ targeting dyslexic and neurodiverse people in recruitment drive, spy chief says

Vincent Wood
Jeremy Fleming will say the drive by Chinese companies to become involved in the Western telecoms sector represents 'a hugely complex technological challenge': Stefan Rousseau/PA

The nation’s intelligence services are directly looking to recruit people with dyslexia and other neurological differences, the head of GCHQ has confirmed.

Jeremy Fleming, the director of the wing of the intelligence service responsible for signals and digital intelligence, said neurodiverse employees were integral to the workings of the nation’s security services – adding that the agency has three times the national average of dyslexic people in its apprenticeship programmes.

Speaking at a conference put on by charity Made By Dyslexia, which also featured comments from Sir Richard Branson and health secretary Matt Hancock, Mr Fleming said: “With the right mix of minds anything is possible, and dyslexics are definitely part of that mix.

He added that the dyslexic workforce current employed by GCHQ were in particular useful in “joining the dots, simplification, seeing the bigger picture but also… team working – an organisation of 10,000 people is a big business and nothing happens in my business unless we work properly as a team”.

"I have everyone from the country’s best mathematicians, some of the most talented engineers and hopefully some of the best analysts” Mr Fleming said, "But I also have people who are keeping the show on the road, who are making the machines work, who are making sure we are giving our best every day and I can see dyslexics in every bit of the business”.

"Now we specifically, in some of our campaigns around analytical skills, are looking for people with that sort of neural difference”.

GCHQ works alongside MI5, MI6 and law enforcement to protect the UK from threats including cyberattacks and terrorism, and is marking its centenary throughout 2019.

The agency was established on 1 November 1919 as a peacetime “cryptanalytic” unit made up from staff from the Admiralty’s Room 40 and the War Office’s MI1(b).

And during the Second World War, GCHQ personnel moved to Bletchley Park where they decrypted German messages, most famously by breaking Enigma communications through the work of the agency’s most famous analyst Alan Turing – who, while undiagnosed, is believed to have been among the intelligence service's neurodiverse workers.

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