Rachel Nicholson at Backstage Academy highlights the importance of a skills-based education

Live Visual Design & Production

Students often have a general idea about what a particular career is like, but they don’t always understand what a typical day might entail. Because of this, they are increasingly seeking higher education institutions which offer extensive practical experience as this enables them to explore and experiment with all aspects of their chosen field of study.

Additionally, those pursuing careers in the creative and live events industries are no longer interested in simply obtaining theoretical knowledge – they want practice-oriented, hands-on training that will allow them to graduate with a high level of competence.

An immersive experience

Through experiential training, students are immersed in various activities and experiences, including completing focused projects, engaging with job-specific tasks, and learning specialised techniques under the direct supervision of active and experienced industry professionals.

In the live events and creative industries these are usually not your everyday academics, but professionals at the top of their game. Under their instruction, students get to create unique and ambitious projects that push the boundaries of creativity and expression while developing relevant competencies and skills. Of course, having access to these professionals enables students to build a network of contacts in their field before they graduate.

What’s more, learning from active and experienced industry professionals goes hand in hand with learning about and using innovative technologies. Rather than simply studying different technologies and various types of equipment and how it might be useful for certain jobs, students undergoing practical training can learn about, use, and sharpen their technical skills while studying.

“Through practical training in cutting-edge virtual production technology, delivered by people currently working in the industry, students are given a head start.”

An example of this is virtual production, a relatively new technique which is changing the way content is created. Through practical training in cutting-edge virtual production technology, delivered by people currently working in the industry, students are given a head start. When the time comes for them to transition to the workplace, they will be skilled young career professionals who possess the academic, practical, technical and applied expertise required by industry.

Addressing the skills gap

Although there is a growing need in the industry for graduates who ‘know how to do things’, industry employers often lament the fact that there is a gap between the theoretical knowledge students acquire at university and the skills they need to succeed after graduation.

Students who attend schools that specialise in teaching them the skills they need to excel in a particular creative field will find that the combination of academic, creative and professional skills gained during their studies will more than adequately prepare them for a rewarding career in the creative and live events industries.


Rachel Nicholson is head of institution at Backstage Academy, which provides ‘hands-on’ experience with industry-expert trainers at its campus facility in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.