Chichester College and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have joined forces to deliver specialised apprenticeship training.
The college is one of the regional training providers who will be working with the RSC as part of its national apprenticeship programme – which provides targeted apprenticeship opportunities across all areas of its work. The RSC is also working in partnership with a nationwide network of 12 Associate Regional Theatres across the UK.
The programme is being managed locally by Sally Garner-Gibbons, an apprentice assessor at Chichester College with many years of industry knowledge and experience, who has spearheaded the college’s involvement.
Kate Bradley, an Automation apprentice, and Emily Joyce, a Learning and National Partnership Team Apprentice, are the first two Chichester College apprentices to embark on the programme.
Kate, who started working with the RSC in September 2022, said: “Right from the very first day of my Apprenticeship, I was on the ground, in the thick of it, doing the job. I’m also just about to start my college course as well so I’m learning everyday whilst also getting paid to do a really cool job.
“As an Automation apprentice, I fly scenery and also people using winches and computer programming. As part of my time with the RSC, I’m also learning about electronics, Sound, Video and Stage Management among other skills.
Working in a theatre production environment, every day is different, so I walk in not necessarily knowing what I’m going to do but knowing that it’s going to be interesting and I’m going to learn.”
The partnership is part of the RSC’s commitment to becoming a training hub, working in partnership with organisations to develop flexi-job apprenticeships – sharing roles with theatre partners – to provide apprentices with a wider experience and exposure to working in the performing arts and stage management sector.
Helen Loftus, Principal of Chichester College, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for the college to work with the RSC to deliver high-quality apprenticeships and open doors to young people in such a competitive industry.
“We share a commitment to educating apprentices to the highest of standards, whether that’s on the job at the RSC or via their remote study with the college, combined with workplace visits.
“We’re proud to welcome Kate and Emily as our first RSC apprentices, and we know they will be among the first of many who will reap the benefits of this new programme.”
Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Learning and National Partnerships, said: “The RSC is acutely aware of the need for the theatre industry to diversify both on and off its stages. We know that lack of talent and potential is not the issue, but lack of opportunity is. This evidence comes through our work with 12 theatre partners and over 250 Associate Schools in some of the country’s most structurally disadvantaged areas.
“We are fully committed to our role as a Teaching Theatre – an organisation that invests in, supports and trains current and future generations of theatre artists and professionals to build a stronger, fairer and more diverse arts sector. That means offering clear pathways through training, learning and research, for young people to have quality arts experiences and consider the possibility of a career in the sector for themselves.”
Photo by Sara Beaumont © RSC