From time to time I see attractive-looking jobs on defence contracts, and I'm tempted to apply for one because I know a little bit about defence. In fact my university education was sponsored by a defence systems manufacturer, and I spent many happy hours playing with big sexy artillery that does stuff like chucking ten-kilo bombs over several kilometres at six hundred miles an hour.

Before I get to the point I want to make, please forgive a short aside. Many of the ads for defence jobs say things like: "Must either be security cleared or be willing to undergo clearance". Yet when you phone, the agent (or the moronic scum of the earth, as I like to think of all but three recruitment agents I've ever spoken to) tells you: "Sorry, if you're not security cleared we can't put you forward". Why put the "or be willing ..." phrase in, then? Because they follow up the "sod off" response with: "... but can you send us a copy of your CV?" So it's a fishing expedition, basically. My goodness, that hacks me off.

Anyway, back to the point. Given that clearance is fairly obviously required, even if the ad says it isn't, it seems to be something that you can't get unless you're already working either on a defence contract or, at the very least, for a company that does some work in defence. Cos from reading the government Web site, it seems tha the only real way to get clearance is to have your application "sponsored" by a defence-related company. Which almost makes it a closed shop for companies like mine - little two-man/woman-band consultancies.

The question is, then: am I missing something? Is there some route to security clearance that someone like me - owner of a small consultancy who's keen to open up a new market segment to tout it in - can follow? If there's anyone out there who can say: "Yeah, what you need to do is XXX", I'd absolutely love to hear from you.