We helped the Royal Albert Hall kick-start their apprenticeship programme
Many organisations don’t know where to start when it comes to taking on an apprentice for the first time. That’s where Creative & Cultural Skills can help. Partnership Manager Jennie Godsalve writes about her experience working with the Royal Albert Hall to recruit their first apprentices.
The Royal Albert Hall now has an established annual apprenticeship scheme, but this wasn’t always the case.
Prior to launching their scheme in 2016 they had limited knowledge of apprenticeships and didn’t know that apprenticeships even existed for creative roles such as theatre technicians.
They had been struggling to diversify their workforce, and wanted to change this, especially in terms of the kinds of qualifications and experience that new recruits were bringing. Introducing creative apprenticeships to their recruitment work was an ideal way to widen the scope of applicants and develop a really skilled workforce.
Creative & Cultural Skills has been involved in apprenticeships since 2008, when we first supported the development of the creative apprenticeship frameworks for the industry. Since then we’ve seen over 4,500 apprenticeship starts in the sector, supporting young people to pursue an alternative route into employment in our growing industry.
The Royal Albert Hall came to our 2016 National Conference and had a one on one surgery with myself and Programme Director Sara Whybrew. This was a perfect chance for them to understand the basics of how apprenticeships work and ask any questions they had been struggling to find an answer to.
A perfect chance for them to understand the basics of how apprenticeships work
They were really excited by the presentations given at conference and the opportunities apprenticeships could offer for their organisation. They appreciated the chance to discuss with other employers their experience of managing apprentices, and how well apprenticeships were working for them. They also had the chance to meet apprentices at the event and get their perspective.
The next steps
Their interest in developing an apprenticeship scheme in their organisation was now clear and having had the chance to clarify any issues they had been unsure of before, they were keen to progress things further.
We followed this initial surgery by meeting with their key personnel including their Head of Human Resources, the Human Resources Manager, Head of Technical and their Education and Outreach Manager. This allowed us to look at relevant apprenticeship frameworks and consider what available apprenticeships would work within their organisation.
At this meeting we worked through all the practical steps they would need to go through in order to get the ball rolling.
Bringing staff on board
As a result of this meeting they decided to take on board two Level 3 Technical Theatre apprentices.
We were able to help them get buy-in from the rest of the team, and make sure that any questions or concerns they had were answered.
At this stage in the process, the senior management team was convinced that an apprenticeship scheme would be fantastic for the organisation, but they also wanted to make sure that others who would be working directly with the new apprentices understood their role and were prepared for this new project.
We were able to help them get buy-in from the rest of the team, and make sure that any questions or concerns they had were answered. We held an advice session with around 50 staff members, and found that they really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how apprenticeships work, and what it would mean to work with an apprentice.
We continued working with them during the recruitment process, offering advice on how to make sure that the job descriptions were open and accessible, so as to attract a diverse range of applicants. We helped with advertising the roles and finding partners who could introduce them to a diverse group of young people who may be interested in applying.
We put them in contact with The National College who were able to advise on how to work with a training provider. We also carried out a training session for those who would be directly managing the apprentices so they would feel more comfortable overseeing this new project.
We know that apprentices often may need more support than other entry level staff, as for many it is their first time in the workplace. So we helped the Royal Albert Hall to identify possible ‘buddys’ who could act as vital supporters for the new apprentices, other than their managers.
A job well done
Eventually, they hired two Technical Theatre apprentices and were really happy with their work! When the apprenticeships began the new recruits had a clear, balanced induction and they told us that staff felt in control of the whole process.
The input from Creative & Cultural Skills at the beginning of the Hall’s apprenticeship programme was invaluable as it was new to everyone working here.
As they had had the chance to develop their knowledge about apprenticeships well before starting the scheme, there were no major surprises, and they were able to focus on getting the best out of their new apprentices.
The Royal Albert Hall Apprenticeship Scheme is still ongoing, and they have since branched out into other types of apprenticeships, taking on board Show Technician and HR Administrator apprentices. The scheme is generously funded by the David Brownlow Charitable Foundation.
Head of Human Resources at the Royal Albert Hall, Alison Tobe said, "The input from Creative & Cultural Skills at the beginning of the Hall’s apprenticeship programme was invaluable as it was new to everyone working here. They offered all the support we needed and had the important information, with tailored advice and guidance freely offered.
"The technical apprentices fulfil a vital role and are such a valued addition to the team. When the first two left, we took three more on and they have integrated just as well. Whilst they are here to learn they bring an energy to the team that is of real measurable benefit."
Get in touch
If you are considering taking on a creative apprentice, but aren’t sure where to start come and talk to us!
Alison said "Although starting an apprenticeship scheme may seem a little overwhelming, with the correct support and guidance from somebody who understands funding and the requirements of the qualification you will quickly discover the joy of offering someone the chance to enter the industry. The enthusiasm and wealth of diversity that our apprentices provide across many areas of the business has been a real pleasure to observe."
The enthusiasm and wealth of diversity that our apprentices provide across many areas of the business has been a real pleasure to observe.
There are lots of reasons why organisations think an apprenticeship scheme may not be for them. Perhaps you think you don’t have capacity, it’s too hard, you have limited funding, you would not know how to train someone or you’ve never worked with a training provider…
These are questions we hear every day, but every day we help small and larger employers navigate the apprenticeship world, overcome all their questions and very successfully build their business by hiring an apprentice to do an entry level job.
If you would like to find out more about the practical support we provide to employers contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put you in touch with the relevant team member in your area.