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The government is proactively addressing its failure to retain internet specialists to deal with cyber security threats, according to a document (PDF) presented to Parliament by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron presented the document to Parliament as the government's response to issues raised by the intelligence and security committee in its 2010–2011 annual report, which expressed concerns at the inability of GCHQ, the British intelligence service, to retain suitable internet specialists to respond to threats.

The government says it will support departments and agencies in developing cyber security training and skills programmes for staff as part of the National Cyber Security Programme.

In addition, the report points out that the Cabinet Office and GCHQ are both supporters of initiatives such as the Cyber Security Challenge, which aims to promote careers in cyber security.

The initiative does this through annual competitions and events, as well as by providing "advice and opportunities" to people interested in starting a career in information security.

"Experienced internet specialists are highly prized by both government and industry and GCHQ recognises that it therefore needs to maintain its competitiveness in the market place," the government says in its response.

It argues that GCHQ uses a "retention payment system" to ensure it remains competitive, and that these bonuses and the unique appeal of GCHQ help to keep leaver rates low.

But the government says that says that GCHQ wants to involve other government departments in further measures to attract and retain skilled intelligence staff.

The committee's recognition that the Security Service needs IT specialists to deliver its major technology projects was welcomed by the government. GCHQ said that use of interim specialists and contractors is kept under constant review in order to secure best value, and it agrees with the committee that closer collaborative working is a means of making further savings.

The government says it welcomes the committee's intention to examine agencies' use of consultants and contractors in greater detail.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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