Winning the electronic information battle 

Head of AI Labs, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Read time: 3 mins
Strengthening the UK’s Electronic Warfare capability and tackling a key skills shortage lie at the heart of a new BAE Systems-Dstl graduate training scheme, explains Mike Stratford
Winning the electronic information battle DSTL blogDid you know what you wanted to do when you grew up?
I was lucky. Even though the exact destination was unclear, I always wanted to work in and around science and technology. It was this ambition, which propelled me first to my degree in Computer Science, and then onto a career, which has taken me through a variety of roles, all of which have been underpinned by technology.
Not all graduates are so fortunate, however. Many emerge into uncertain futures, burdened by debt and with unclear prospects. This year’s graduates are faced with entering a job market reshaped by Covid-19 and one where hiring prospects have fallen dramatically. Their timing could not have been more unfortunate.
Of course, university degrees are not the be all and end all. Successive governments of different political stripe have recognised this by attempting to shift attention to more vocational careers and building up skills in key sectors of the economy. It’s fair to say this remains a work in progress but maybe that’s inevitable to a degree?
Take the technology sector, for example. Here, new advances materialise at dizzying pace – it would seem unrealistic to expect that a sector can immediately call upon a workforce ready and able to start capitalising them. Some form of training will be inevitable – at least to start with.

Back to school

This is something we’ve long recognised here at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. But it’s important not to stand still. That’s why we have just teamed up with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to strengthen the UK’s Electronic Warfare (EW) capability while also tackling a key skills shortage in radio and software engineers with an application to defence problems.
A group of our graduates with skills in Radio Frequency, Electromagnetic and Software Defined Radio were the first to complete our newly created eight-week training course, which blends theoretical knowledge with real world practical learning. Having successfully completed the course, they are now ready and about to start work immediately on Military EW and Cyber projects for Dstl and the wider Ministry of Defence (MOD).
BAE Systems, together with our partner Roke Manor Research Ltd, plan to run these training programmes for our staff several times a year. The twin aims are to both reinvigorate the UK’s reservoir of skills in this area and enable the MOD to keep pace in a sector, which has experienced increased activity from adversaries and significant recent investment from the wider commercial industry. 

Standing guard

Although the attention of the country – and indeed world – remains rightly on the unfolding horrors of the Covid-19 Pandemic, this is no time to lower our guard against more traditional adversaries. Keeping the UK safe is no nine to five job. It requires eternal vigilance. It demands the right equipment. Moreover, it needs a well-trained and multi-disciplined workforce.
This new training course aims to help deliver just that. And the good news? We’re only just getting started.
Watch this space for further details coming soon.

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About the author
Mike Stratford is Head of AI Labs
Mike Stratford Head of AI Labs, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence 14 May 2020