To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we will be posting a blog every day this week which focuses on our long-running apprenticeship scheme and the impact this has had on both past and current apprentices. Today, we’re reflecting on how successful the scheme has been so far and how we are now offering apprenticeships that go beyond the traditional technical training.
As an organisation, we pride ourselves on our industry knowledge, personal service and high technical standards. We are equally passionate about developing the next generation of talent and a way in which we do this is through our annual apprenticeship scheme. Since 2011, we have overseen a total of 49 technical apprenticeships as well as winning Best Apprentice Employer in 2012, along with Best Collaboration with Education Providers in 2014 with Fairfield Halls and ATG at the Creative and Cultural Skills Awards.
Now in its eighth year and with a fresh intake of apprentices, the scheme is as strong as ever and continues to be overseen by WL’s Health & Safety and Workforce Development Director Chris Nicholls. Chris comments: “Since 2011, we have fulfilled our commitment of taking on an average of six intakes per year, with each of these having their training based on the Technical Theatre framework (up until 2017). From our initial intake of four apprentices in 2011, several are still employed by the company in various roles including Event Site Technicians, Account Handlers, Advanced Installations Technicians, Crew Logistics and Supervisors in our Control Department. In fact, 6% of our workforce is made up of our current apprentices; a fact we’re very proud of”.
The WL Apprenticeship aims to nurture those embarking on a career in technical theatre. The company is the first in the UK to offer the new level 3 Creative Venue Technician standard and WL was one of the employers who helped shape this standard. The standard is a combination of ‘on-site’ and ‘in-house’ training as well as 20% ‘off the job’ training. Working alongside their training provider the National College of Creative Industries, WL delivers specific training courses in order for those embarking on the apprenticeship to receive the necessary base skills and certification that is recognised and required in the industry.
Chris explains: “For us, it’s vital that we offer our apprentices training that is going to be transferable to their future career. That’s why we provide a solid grounding in technical knowledge when they first join WL; rotating them between warehouse departments such as Moving Lights, LED, Systems and Control Rigging, Cables, Sound, Video and Audio, Operations and Technical Services. We then move them into our Site Technician team, allowing each one to work on various events such as the London Fashion Weeks, Covent Garden Christmas Lights as well as meetings and conferences in venues where we are the in-house technical supplier such as Central Hall Westminster and Claridge’s. It’s an experience they wouldn’t receive elsewhere and one which we’re extremely proud of”.
WL has recently decided to widen its apprentice offering and give candidates the opportunity to work in an office-based role and be part of the two teams that support vital parts of the business. Two new roles will be Business Administration Apprenticeships who will train and develop their skills within the marketing and business support departments, as well as gain insight and experience in related finance areas. The first of these apprenticeships was given to Aayla Royal who will be based at WL’s Wimbledon base. The next successful candidate will start in mid-March.
Sandra Tyler, WL’s Head of HR, comments: “With our technical apprenticeships proving so successful, we felt it was right to offer something that allowed candidates to experience the more administrative side of our industry. The aim of the Business Administration Apprenticeship is to enable those who take part to become highly trained individuals with practical experience gained in all aspects of our Business Support teams. We really look forward to working with Aayla and giving her hands-on experience and training she wouldn’t receive elsewhere”.
Chris concludes: “The fact that our apprenticeship scheme has won awards, as well as allowed those who’ve undertaken it to have successful careers in our industry, shows what an extremely valuable training platform it is. We are committed to bringing through and training what will be the next generation and look forward to continuing the scheme for many years to come”.