When people think about theatre they normally think about actors and directors, and maybe about writers, musicians and the creative teams that put together the costumes, sets and lighting. But there are all sorts of other people working at the NT in a wide variety of roles, from carpenters and cooks to engineers and electricians – and we recruit for these positions in a number of ways, including apprenticeships. Apprenticeships provide a route into working in theatre without doing a degree at university or going to drama school. At the NT apprentices study for an industry recognised qualification while also learning from experts in the workplace and earning above the minimum wage. If you are interested in how everything fits together behind the scenes, in the people and the work that the audience don't normally get to see, and you don't already have a degree or HND, then an apprenticeship might be for you.
We began our Modern Apprenticeships Programme in February 2012, taking on two Technical Theatre Apprentices. Since then, the programme has grown and at the beginning of 2013 we had nine apprentices and trainees based in a number of different departments across the NT including Sound, IT Support and Health and Safety. Participants in the scheme have been involved in making stage props that have featured on the Olivier and Lyttelton stages, have fitted microphones to both Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) during our NT 50 Years on Stage celebration, have fired a gun on stage to check the noise level, and one even met Her Majesty the Queen on her recent visit to the NT.
Our apprentices and trainees have an individually tailored experience at the NT. We work hard to find the training course that best suits the job they will be doing and to find the appropriate training provider. All apprentices and trainees are supported by mentors from within their departments to help teach them the skills needed in order to progress in their work, but we also match them up with a mentor from a different department to give them a wider understanding of what the NT does. Our Concrete Conservation Apprentice, for example, has seen what it's like to work backstage on a show and therefore knows more about the work of the building he is learning to conserve. NT Theatreworks have created an informal training course to help our apprentices and trainees develop their presentation skills and self-confidence, all of which helps them adapt to a work environment.
Staff members really enjoy working with our apprentices as it allows them to pass on their knowledge and experience, and the perspective from a new pair of eyes can be really interesting and illuminating for them.
We will be taking on more apprentices in spring/summer 2014, so if you, or someone you know is interested in an apprenticeship or traineeship at the NT, then please keep an eye on our jobs page (link opens in new window) where all of our positions are posted.
Our Apprentice Props-Maker is a recipient of a Wingate Fellowship from The Harold Hyam Wingate Trust.
Our Concrete Conservation Apprentices are supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Our Development Event Apprentice is supported by The Eranda Foundation.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is proud to support the NT Apprentices scheme. Alongside financial support, the apprenticeship scheme will benefit from the expertise of the bank to help facilitate additional workshops and mentoring to further educate and enrich the lives of local young people.