UK’s Top Spy Agency Is Having Trouble Recruiting Because Silicon Valley Pays ‘Four Or Five Times More’

Eric Lieberman | Associate Editor

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), one of the top surveillance and intelligence agencies in the U.K. government, is reportedly having difficulties finding top talent because U.S.-based tech companies are offering “four or five times more” pay.

Similar to both the NSA and the CIA in many respects, the GCHQ says it did not come close to satisfying hiring goals in Fiscal Year 2016, according to a report that was first reported on by Quartz.

“The continued expansion of cyber-related work is dependent on the Government’s ability to recruit and retain cyber specialists,” reads a review by the U.K. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. “GCHQ previously told us that it struggles to attract and retain a suitable and sufficient cadre of in-house technical specialists because it inevitably has to compete with big technology companies which are able to pay significantly more.”

The U.K. intelligence agency now plans to be more assertive in order to compete with such massive firms like Apple, Google, and Facebook. It wants to vamp up staff by 14 percent after falling short in recruitment by 22 percent the previous year, reports Quartz.

GCHQ, which operates in collaboration with domestic agencies MI5 and MI6, as well as the NSA, may find it difficult as big tech firms continue to increase in power and maintain a diverse set of operations. Such companies, just like government intelligence agencies, also appreciate acute cybersecurity abilities, as well as expert surveillance skills and afford to outbid others outside the select industry with their deep pockets.

Uber, for example, allegedly hired former CIA agents to collect intelligence and trade secrets.

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