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FErret

Skyfall's the limit with new apprenticeships

The thing about spies is that they always have to be several steps ahead - and nothing is ever what it seems. So the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's announcement that it is launching a higher apprenticeship for spooks, based at intelligence agency GCHQ, is worth examining in detail.

Sure, it's great publicity for a flagship government programme, helps to redefine what kind of careers apprenticeships can offer and is guaranteed maximum exposure in the build-up to the release of the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. But what's really going on?

Perhaps one clue is in the fact that one of the first news outlets to seize on the information was the Voice of Russia, a state-sponsored web and radio operation. Did FErret detect a hint of glee at its notion that Putin's goons would be up against spy kids with foundation degrees instead of Cambridge-educated 00s?

But clearly the Foreign Office has absorbed the lesson that vocational routes are as valid as academic ones, and is relying on foreign powers lulling themselves into a false sense of security while the apprentices sneak up on them in an alligator suit with a tuxedo underneath.

Perhaps it's time for FErret to get on with his planned series of vocational education-themed spy novels, now there's more chance of a movie treatment. Watch this space for Licence to Practise, From Assessor, With Love and NVQ to a Kill.

Oh, what a boob!

The video games industry is worth nearly #163;2 billion in Britain, so there was nothing strange about Blackburn College using a gaming theme for its apprenticeship and vocational open day.

FErret was surprised at the special guest, however: 18-year-old Tom Cassell. Tom isn't a coding or graphics prodigy, and he doesn't make games himself. Instead, he is semi-famous thanks to videos of him narrating game footage, featuring his catchphrase "boobalicious".

That, apparently, is a full-time career. Kids, eh? But more of a problem for the college is that Tom dropped out of education to make money a far easier way. Let's hope prospective students didn't pay him too much attention.

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