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Orbital Partners With The National Skills Academy For Creative & Cultural

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Orbital Sound, a sound and communication systems specialist for the theatre, event and broadcast markets, has embarked on an exciting apprenticeship scheme, reflecting its passion for training and encouraging new talent into the industry.
Orbital has taken on two apprentices, working with the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural, which comprises a membership network of over 230 theatre and live music employers, as well as 20 colleges across England. Becky Felton is the first to start – joining Orbital in May – with Jay Dodds already scheduled to start work when he finishes his exams in June.
The Skills Academy is all about nurturing talent and building a skilled technical workforce for the future.
Orbital’s initiative is being managed by Adam Thorneycroft, Head of Engineering, who explains why the scheme has strong appeal: "Given the current climate, we wanted to take some positive steps to keep people interested in working in the entertainment industry. I looked around at a number of options before pitching the Skills Academy scheme to the Orbital directors, on the basis that the apprenticeship scheme is a fantastic step forward that works for both the apprentices and us as a company.
"The more I looked into it, the more we could see that this was the obvious way forward – thanks to the help available from both the Skills Academy and the government. Although the apprentices are only with us for a year at a time, we hope this will be become a long-term relationship with the Skills Academy that will last for many years."
While at Orbital, each apprentice will follow a structured one-year programme, to achieve a good grounding in the industry, while also pursuing their general studies. They will be spending one day a week at Lewisham College, under the watchful eye of Sue Baynton.
The two apprentices will spend some time in each of the departments – from the production office through to tech support, although their time will be biased towards working in engineering. This will expose them to the widest possible cross-section of productions and projects – from small dry hires all the way up to West End shows and large-scale tours. Over the year, the plan is to pair them with Orbital’s full-time engineers, so that they learn the ins and outs of all the hire stock, learning everything from the basic operations to fault-finding and repairs.
As part of the training, each apprentice is tasked with creating a presentation book, to show what they have accomplished during the year. This will form a key component of their course work. The goal is that at the end of their apprenticeship, they will be fully confident about using the latest sound equipment and able to walk into full-time employment.
For the Skills Academy, organisations such as Orbital are an essential component in their strategy to bring new skills into the industry, as well as developing accepted qualifications for the future.
Paul Marijetic explains their objectives: "We are working to achieve a real culture shift within the business, professionalising the whole recruitment process and getting away from the “who you know” way into a job. Because much of our industry are small organisations it‘s a very labour-intensive process – in this business, it can take 50 different conversations to get 50 apprenticeships agreed, and we are particularly aware that it is the backstage and production sectors that are looking for recruits. We have been working closely with Adam to design a job description and manage the process – we have had over 70 applicants for each of Orbital’s posts so far, which is a strong response. The whole process takes around 4 weeks from start to finish, from putting the job information live on the National Apprenticeship recruitment directory through to final interviews.
"The great thing in the rental and production sectors is that the apprentices can be productive from day one – giving their sponsors a genuine return on investment from the outset and providing the apprentice with a great learning environment. The Skills Academy celebrated its 1000th placement earlier this year – an incredible milestone in just three years since we started!"
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