We're rounding up some of the biggest security cleared stories of the past few weeks. In April, defence jobs were secured by new contracts for armoured fighting vehicles and satellites, efforts were unveiled to boost the range of people working in government jobs, and debates took place within the government about flexible working in Whitehall.
New armoured vehicle deal set to boost UK defence jobs
Up to 1,000 jobs in the UK defence sector are set to be supported by a decision to bolster the British Army's fleet of armoured vehicles, with an extra 100 Boxer troop transports set to be built.
The Boxer is a joint programme with Germany and the multirole armoured fighting vehicle has already proven itself for over ten years, including service in Afghanistan. The new deal will bring the total number of vehicles in use in the British Army to 623, with construction set to take place in both Germany and at UK facilities in Telford and Stockport.
Deputy chief of the general staff Lieutenant General Sir Christopher Tickell said: "This is a significant announcement for the army in enhancing this key capability under the Integrated Review. Boxer will form the core of our modernised Armoured Brigade Combat Teams and it is great news for our service personnel getting more of these excellent platforms."
Thousands of new Civil Service apprenticeships set to be created
Efforts to diversify the range of people in central government jobs are to take a step forward with a new recruitment scheme that will seek to attract thousands of additional apprentices from all socio-economic backgrounds to the Civil Service over the next few years.
More than 35,000 personnel have been recruited to such positions since 2015, and the ambition is to see that one in 20 central government roles are filled by apprentices by 2025. The initiative will also aim to ensure that at least 39 per cent of these recruits come from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Commenting on the moves, parliamentary secretary in the Cabinet Office Heather Wheeler said: "It's clear that the door is well and truly open for anyone to get in and get on in government. The new apprenticeship strategy contains a relentless focus on driving up standards in government, building a pipeline of highly-skilled public servants from across the UK to deliver on the people’s priorities."
£22 million satellite scheme to support 100 highly-skilled jobs
A new contract for the creation of a new satellite to boost the UK's space defence strategy, worth £22 million, has been awarded to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), the government has announced.
The deal will secure the future of 100 highly-skilled jobs at the company's facility in Guildford and is part of a wider £123 million investment called MINERVA, which is a science, technology and innovation programme focussed on integrating space with land, air, sea and cyber technologies.
It will be a "critical first step" in helping support UK armed forces in the future by helping identify the processing power, radio frequencies and imagery capabilities UK Space Command requires to provide timely space-based intelligence.
Ministers argue over central government WFH policies
Cabinet ministers have offered contrasting opinions this month over whether people in central government jobs should continue to be permitted to work from home as the country seeks to return to a sense of pre-Covid normality.
Minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg has been a major cheerleader for office-based work. He made headlines in April after performing spot inspections of several government departments, leaving 'sorry I missed you' cards on empty desks - something that was criticised by unions.
Although 10 Downing Street has backed his approach, culture secretary Nadine Dorries described this attitude as "Dickensian", while the head of the Civil Service Simon Case is also said to have raised concerns about rhetoric intended to pressure workers to return to their desks.
Flexible working policies have emerged as a major trend since Covid-enforced lockdowns, with one study by EY suggesting 90 per cent of employees now want some degree of flexibility.