The BBC has launched a technology apprenticeship scheme in a bid to avert a skills shortage that the broadcaster’s chief technology officer warned could prevent it from staging large-scale outside broadcasts such as the Olympics and Glastonbury.
The initiative will be funded by the BBC and the government, and aims to produce 100 graduate-level apprentices in total over the next eight years.
BBC chief technology officer John Linwood said the potential impact of the “ageing talent base” became clear to him during the London 2012 Olympics.
He said: “I looked around at the staff building the studios, setting up the communications and everything around the coverage, and I realised that most of them were 55 years old and likely to be retiring soon.
“In five years’ time, the UK media industry might not be able to put on some of the events we stage today. And if we don’t address this problem, in 10 years’ time it would be impossible to do what we did at the 2012 Olympics,” he said.
ITV, Channel 4, Red Bee Media and Arqiva have pledged to support the BBC Technology Apprenticeship, which will involve work placements and academic courses covering software development and managing IP networks.
The scheme will also comprise traditional broadcast engineering subjects, including electronics, electrics, and video and audio systems.
The BBC is working with Salford University and Birmingham City University to gain accreditation for the course, which will begin in September.
The apprenticeship opened for applications on 18 April, and successful candidates will be paid around £11,500 per year while they work towards an honours bachelor degree.
“We won’t guarantee anybody a job, but clearly we will know all of them very well by the end of their three years,” Linwood added.