Technical production trainees in South Africa
Seiso, Mpho, Letsebela and Wandile are technical production trainees for the South African Roadies Association, which provides young people with training and employment skills for the music tech industry. They discussed their experiences of working and learning so far.
I’m from Johannesburg’s capital, Pretoria.
I’m from Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.
Mpho Pholoana and Wandile Gxoyiya
We are both from a suburb in Johannesburg called Soweto.
What do you do?
We are trainees in live events technical production. The programmes we are on are called learnerships, which are the South African equivalent of UK apprenticeships.
We also learn about things like health and safety, event management, event production and live events.
How did you become a trainee?
I was studying at college to become a sound technician. After a while I realised it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, as it was studio-based and I wanted to do work more in live entertainment. That was when I heard about SARA. I went along to take their entry tests and got in.
After all the hard work is done, being able to hear the sound and watch the event is great.
I gained some qualifications from college, but through SARA I was able to learn a lot more.
One of the reasons SARA was set up is because the technical skills industry in South Africa has been growing, but there's not enough people skilled to do the jobs.
I was working as a DJ when my friends introduced me to SARA. I was so impressed with what they did, especially with their live events, that I stayed and joined.
I started by helping my uncle, a musician, who needed someone to help get his sound right. I then became interested in being professionally trained.
That was when I found out that that SARA trains young, underprivileged students and helps them start their careers, which is what they did for me.
I was in college studying music, but I realised that it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, so I became a DJ.
I searched the internet for jobs in live sound events and came across SARA.
What are the best and worst things about technical production?
I would say the best thing would be the travelling and getting to work with lots of other people. The worst would be the long, hard hours with little sleep.
I get to work on many jobs with many different people. I also get to build and set up productions, which is one of my favourite things to do.
I am always learning new things on each gig, which I enjoy. Being able to engage with other people and develop your own skills means is important.
The worst thing about this industry is definitely sleeping in funny places and then waking up freezing!
Although it does lead to probably the best bit, which is getting to work in an empty field and then turning it into something beautiful. I like working from scratch on jobs and the creativity of it all.
You have to have a heart for the industry, otherwise there’s no point doing it.
I liked that SARA do a lot of travelling to neighbouring communities and work with young people, like talking to them and teaching them about the industry. In some of these areas there is a real lack of technicians.
Being a roadie is a lot of fun. Getting to travel to gigs and then, after all the hard work is done, being able to hear the sound and watch the event is great.
But I don't like making the stage, especially if you have to make a roof.
How do I get into technical production?
With this job, you have to have a heart for the industry, otherwise there’s no point doing it.
My tip for anyone wanting to get into the technical skills industry is to be willing to learn all the time.
To work in the technical skills industry you have to have respect for all the people that you come across. That would be my career tip. Also having a good, positive attitude.
My advice for anyone wanting a career in the technical skills industry would be to love what you do and be patient.
Have a lot of patience with yourself and also the skills that you are learning.