How we set up a Shared Apprenticeship Scheme
At Wales Millennium Centre, we’ve played host to technical theatre apprentices since 2008. But in the last few years, we have noticed a decline in the other venues doing them and fewer colleges delivering the apprenticeship qualification. Martin and I were concerned this could mean that technical theatre apprenticeships simply die out in Wales due to low availability. So this is what we did about it.
When we were thinking about what we could do, it was recommended that we set up a Shared Apprenticeship Scheme. This involves the Centre becoming the primary employer of the apprentices, who are then based at venues all across Wales.
Training ourselves as assessors
We needed a college to get on board with us and agree to deliver the qualification for the scheme. Thankfully Skills Academy Leadership College Cardiff and Vale (CAVC) really saw the benefit, and were wonderfully supportive since the beginning.
We're keen for this scheme to be Wales-wide and not too Cardiff-centric.
With their help, in 2015, Martin and I were able to train up to become work-based learning assessors. This makes assessment of the apprentices much easier as we can travel to the venues and assess them in situ in order to cut down on the amount of time they need to spend in Cardiff. Martin and I have always been very keen that this scheme is Wales-wide and not too Cardiff-centric.
Getting venues on board
We approached various venues across Wales to see who would be interested in getting involved. As we guessed, we had a lot of interest!
By going through CAVC, venues that did not have a college provider nearby could still host an apprentice. And through the Centre becoming the primary employer, we could also access funding that local authority-owned venues could not.
This meant we could subsidise the costs of the apprentices for some of the venues that have funding issues.
So immediately we had solved three of the major problems that venues faced when looking into taking on an apprentice.
Cardiff and Vale College really saw the benefit and were wonderfully supportive since the beginning.
The shared apprenticeship scheme also unifies the qualification and experience that the apprentices are getting. They are all undertaking the same qualification and completing the same units.
They will also be doing the ABTT Bronze Award, which is an industry-recognised training programme. This means that the apprentices are all trained to the same standard and prospective employers will recognise the level of training and experience that they have received.
Launching the Shared Apprenticeship Scheme
We are now launching the Shared Apprenticeship Scheme with an induction week in Cardiff, before each apprentice will go off to start at their respective venues. We have managed to place apprentices not just here at the Centre, but also with:
- Welsh National Opera
- Sherman Cymru
- Blackwood Miner’s Institute
- Theatr Mwldan
- Torch Theatre
- Aberystwyth Arts Centre
- Theatr Clwyd.
Future apprenticeships plans
In the future, we want more venues to get involved in the shared apprenticeship scheme. We would like their funders to realise the benefit of having an apprentice, so that it isn’t such a struggle to get an apprentice approved. We would also like to fine-tune the qualification so that we can have a real input into what they learn.
It would be beneficial to join up with the National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries, and the Creative Venue Technician apprenticeship that they are creating, to further unify the training across the UK. But for now, we are happy with creating a Wales-wide Shared Apprenticeship Scheme and ensuring that technical theatre apprenticeships are still thriving in Wales.