17 March 2016 at 5.15pm | Comment on this article
‘You’re learning all the time’, says Erin Hills, a current Wigs and Make-Up apprentice at the Royal Opera House. ‘I love watching the rehearsals and seeing my work and my colleagues’ work on stage.’
Taking place this week across the UK, National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2016) celebrates the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
The ROH has grown its apprenticeship scheme year on year and currently employs 17 apprentices across 12 different disciplines, including Technical Theatre, Costume Support and Hair and Make-Up.
‘I thought it would be too difficult to get’, says Sophie O’Connor about applying for a Costume Support apprenticeship. ‘You don’t need to know anything about opera and ballet – you just need to be willing to learn about it.’
The scheme provides young people with the opportunity to work with some of the best-skilled people in the industry while also gaining a recognized qualification.
‘The hands-on experience you get is something you can’t learn from a book’, says Paddy Hail, a Technical Theatre apprentice. ‘Not only are you working with some of the best technicians around […] but you’re doing things that not many people get to do.’
Further to the work-based training offered at the ROH, the apprentices also receive support with their CVs, portfolios and job applications in order to secure further employment once they have qualified. To date, 85% of former ROH apprentices are working in the creative and cultural industries or undergoing further related training.
‘It gives you such a broad range of skills at the end of it from all departments, so that you’ve then got that skill-base to go out into [other] theatres’, says Henry Desmond, a Technical Theatre apprentice.
Apprenticeships at the Royal Opera House are generously supported by the Derek Butler Trust, the Ashley Family Foundation and the Gordon Foundation.