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National Apprenticeship Week: Apprenticeships aren't just in ‘making’ departments

Education Events and Tours Apprentice Jamie Ashwell on revealing the secrets of our production workshop.

By Rachel Edmunds (Former Fundraising Appeals and Communications Manager)

14 March 2013 at 5.57pm | Comment on this article

This is National Apprenticeship Week and although we have a number of apprenticeships in practical departments such as metalwork or carpentry that’s not the only kind of job available. Jamie Ashwell (aged 20), is our Education Events and Tours Apprentice. He organizes events and shows visitors around the workshops where the Royal Opera House’s scenery is made: the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop in Thurrock. There are regular public tours and schools visits and previous guests have included the Duke of Kent.

‘This was my favourite school trip ever! I made props and found out lots of cool facts’ - Student from Deneholm Primary School

‘Doing an apprenticeship has many advantages; one of course is money because you get paid to be an apprentice,’ says Jamie. ‘You work with leading practitioners in the industry, which you wouldn’t necessarily get when going into a job or doing a university course.’

Originally from the local area, Jamie is passionate about giving all the Production Park’s visitors a brilliant experience; a sentiment that’s reflected in enthusiastic responses to the tours. Especially receptive are the primary school groups, who have a chance to make their own props.

Recently, Jamie gave a small group of Royal Opera House supporters an exclusive glimpse of the final touches being made to the scenery for John Fulljames’s forthcoming production of La donna del lago, coming to the ROH Main Stage in May. They were also shown the initial designs for Carlos Acosta’s Don Quixote, which opens The Royal Ballet’s 2013/14 Season.

‘Working for the Royal Opera house is an incredible thing because they are a world leading organization within the arts. I was attracted to the apprenticeship because of the chance to learn from people who are at the top of the creative industry so early on in my career,’ he says.

Recently the future of the Apprenticeships programme was secured by a generous donation to the Royal Opera House Endowment Fund by The Derek Butler Trust. The Trust’s support will enable the scheme to expand to at least 12 positions per year through to 2018 and provide match funding for a further five years’ activity. We’re delighted that we have been able to continue and extend our commitment to apprenticeships: if you or someone you know are considering an apprenticeship you’ll find more information on our website.

See our recent Q&A with Tommy and Georgia, who work in our Metalwork and Collections departments.

Watch BBC News's film about the apprentices who help make the Royal Opera House work

Tours of our Thurrock Production Workshops are now available to book.

As well as The Derek Butler Trust, we are also grateful to John Lyon’s Charity, The Headley Trust, Gordon Foundation, the Ashley Family Foundation, the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers Charitable Trust and an anonymous donor whose generous support is enabling us to offer a wide range of apprenticeships this Season.


By Rachel Edmunds (Former Fundraising Appeals and Communications Manager)

14 March 2013 at 5.57pm

This article has been categorised Learning, Off stage and tagged apprentice, friends, Friends of Covent Garden, National Apprenticeship Week, ROH, Support, Thurrock, tours

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