Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week at WL

For almost a decade, WL has run an award-winning apprenticeship scheme in order to develop the next generation of industry talent. With today marking the start of National Apprenticeship Week, we’ve decided to take a look back at the scheme’s successes so far and how it has changed the lives of those who’ve taken part.  






The WL Apprenticeship aims to nurture those embarking on a career in technical theatre. The apprenticeship is a Level 3 Creative Venue Technician course which is a combination of ‘on-site’ and ‘in-house’ training. Working alongside 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. 






The scheme is overseen by WL’s Health and Safety and Workforce Development Director Chris Nicholls, who comments: “The scheme has been tailored to ensure it offers everything those wanting a technical career in the industry require. Whether it’s the preparation and maintenance of AV and lighting equipment, first-hand experience of working at some of London’s most prolific venues, along with training across all departments here at WL, they will receive a wide range of opportunities and skillsets that aren’t available elsewhere”. 


As part of its commitment to developing the practical skills of its apprentices, WL works closely with its industry partners to offer exclusive on-site placements. The previous cohort worked at venues such as the Roundhouse, Coliseum and Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch. Christine Piper, Head of Production at Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, comments: “For the last couple of years, we’ve worked with WL to help facilitate their apprenticeship scheme, with the timing of the work placement coinciding with the rehearsal and tech period of our annual pantomime. This gives the apprentice an excellent opportunity to work on a show from the start of rehearsals to the opening. We get an extra pair of hands and they gain some vital experience”. 






Every WL apprentice also works on the annual VAULT Festival, where they take part in the technical installation. Andy George, Head of Production at VAULT Festival, comments: “We love working with the apprentices. It’s an opportunity for us to pass on the exciting learning opportunity that the Festival is to people who really thrive and benefit from it. The apprentices form the core of the lighting crew we work with and without their passion, energy and support, the Festival wouldn’t be what it is”. 






Last October, WL took on its latest batch of apprentices: George Ploog, Azaldean Mohammed, Charlie Russell-Teare and Jack Bass. It also widened its offering by creating two Business Administration Apprenticeships, which were awarded to Ellie Richards and Aalyah Royal. These new apprenticeships give each candidate the opportunity to work in an office-based role and develop their skills as part of the Business Support and Marketing teams.    






Since WL’s initial intake of four apprentices in 2011, the company has overseen 57 apprenticeships; with all of those who completed the course going on to work in the industry. Many are still employed by the company in various roles, including Dan Goodwin who was part of the first ever intake. In total, 8% of the company’s current workforce is made up of previous apprentices. 


The past twelve months have been particularly significant for WL’s Apprenticeship scheme. At last year’s CC Skills Awards, the company was named Apprentice Employer of the Year whereas at the Merton Best Business Awards, Dominic Devereux (of the 2017 cohort) won Apprentice of the Year. These join the company’s previous accolades of CC Skills Best Apprentice Employer in 2012 along with Best Collaboration with Education Providers in 2014. 






The company is currently looking for its next intake of apprenticeships under the CVT framework. The deadline to apply is 23rd February 2020, with the aim to start in April 2020. Interested applicants should visit this link. WL is particularly keen to hear from individuals currently underrepresented in the industry, such as those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and lower socio-economic backgrounds. 






Chris concludes: “We are really proud of our apprentice scheme and the careers it has forged so far. As a company, it’s allowed us to fulfil our passion to nurture the next generation and make sure they receive the best start possible in what’s a notoriously competitive industry. Looking ahead, we are excited to meet the next cohort and continue delivering an award-winning scheme we have now become renowned for”.