We have been providing accredited apprenticeships for 11 years. Theatreworks is very proud to be part of this vital programme.
Primarily focused on technical theatre and backstage roles, each two-year cohort has an average intake of five apprentices. Apprentices must be at least 18 years old, but there is no upper age limit to take part in the programme. Ages vary in each cohort, but participants tend to range from 16 years old up to their thirties.
Apprentices have contracts with us for the duration of their tenure. Each one is focused on a specific craft such as stage lighting, carpentry and set construction, costume design, or wider skills in IT or Marketing. Knowledge of or a passion for theatre is not a requirement. However, many of our graduates do end up working in the arts sector.
Part of the Government’s requirement for apprenticeships is that 20% of the programme must include ‘off-the-job’ training. This takes place outside of each apprentice’s chosen focus. This is where Theatreworks comes in. The programme delivers part of this training by running our courses: Personal Impact and Influence & Rapport for all apprentices. These sessions are designed to cultivate foundational workplace skills, including effective communication and leadership. However, Theatreworks plays a vital and proud role in the programme before the apprentices are even appointed.
Pre-interview introductions: providing a positive experience
We hold a workshop open to every qualified applicant before their interview. This pre-interview session is voluntary. It’s designed to help level the playing field for all candidates. Many will have limited experience with job interviews, and have never been to the National Theatre.
It’s up to the candidates to choose if they want to take part in the pre-interview session. None of the selection panel are present during the session. It has no bearing at all on the outcome of the interview.
For some candidates, particularly those who are neurodivergent, the workshop helps them plan their route in advance. They can, quite literally, navigate their way to the National Theatre ahead of time. Alongside developing their skills, the workshop allows candidates to get a feel for the building ahead of their interview.
Theatreworks facilitator Corinne Micallef says:
The pre-interview workshop is all about helping candidates with their confidence. We aim to make them feel comfortable enough to present the best version of themselves at interview.
Connecting, not competing
In addition to familiarising themselves with the environment, the pre-interview workshop allows the candidates to meet and learn from each other and realise they are not alone. It is about providing a safe space for the candidates to connect with one another, regardless of whether or not they are selected to take part as full apprentices.
Like all Theatreworks sessions, the day provides a safe space for participants to try new techniques. It provides practical tips to help the candidates with their breathing, posture and voice – all elements they can draw on for their interviews to help calm their nerves. The session also serves to set expectations and help the candidates, underscoring that even if they are not selected, there is value in every opportunity they pursue.
The pre-interview session helps our apprenticeship programme stand out. It is as much about providing the candidates with helpful skills to put their best selves forward for their interviews as it is about being honest about the reality of the situation. The candidates leave the room feeling more confident, connected and better equipped to perform well at their interviews.
The workshop takes the sting out of making a good first impression and gives the candidates a choice about how they present themselves. The techniques they learn help the interview panel to see the people, rather than the nerves, helping to make the whole selection process go more smoothly and providing lasting value to everyone involved.
As Corinne says:
The Theatreworks toolkit is the foundation of the pre-interview sessions. The idea is that everyone that takes part in the session learns something of value. Even if they aren’t selected as part of the apprenticeship programme. The session gives candidates the space to practice with each other and reflect on their experiences. It is during this process where the shift happens. The invitation to observe and borrow from each other is powerful. They become a group of peers, rather than competitors.
Most of the candidates come into the session with anxiety. They are not used to taking part in interviews, let alone pre-interview sessions. They are unsure what to expect from the day. Many think it is part of the interview itself. Once they realise that I’m nothing to do with the interview or selection process, they breathe a visible sigh of relief! They stop viewing it as being in a room with their competition and start to connect with each other.