Group of 10 ‘trailblazers’ led by UK Screen Association to draw up rules for apprenticeships

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The UK Screen Alliance is leading a ‘trailblazer group’ tasked with creating standards for new apprenticeship schemes to train technical operators within post-production.

The trade association, which represents the facilities sector, says the group of 10 post houses will create standards that will form the basis of 12-month industry-approved apprenticeship courses.

The courses will train technical operators, grade/edit assistants, offline assistants, DITs, dailies operators, QC operators and others in technical support roles.

“The way people have previously moved into these ‘machine room’ operations is to start as a runner and learn on the job,” UK Screen Alliance chief executive Neil Hatton (pictured above left) told Broadcast. “Some companies have internal schemes to train up tech operators, but these are variable in quality.”

Where structured apprenticeship schemes exist for media-related tech roles, they aren’t tailored to the specific technical knowledge required for post-production.

“There aren’t enough standards for these courses, so we’re creating the future standards,” said Hatton. “We’re working with several educational institutions in the media sector that have the right tutors, kit and knowledge, on how these apprenticeships can best be delivered.”

Hatton added that the UK Screen trailblazer group has been very detailed and exacting about the standards for the apprenticeships, which cover all the responsi- bilities of a tech operator in a post environment – ingest, managing media, transcoding, exporting – as well as more advanced skills such as data conforming, preparing sequences for finishing in grading and audio, and QC.

“Apprentices will also learn soft skills, including teamwork, meeting deadlines, communication skills, and how to deliver customer service in a creative environment,” he said.

The year-long apprenticeship courses created from the new standards will be 20% off-site, in a college environment, and will be block release, rather than day release.

Providing consistency

There will be an intensive training block at the beginning of the course, which apprentices will be able to put into practice as soon as they return to work.

“Our standards will provide consistency across the industry and will raise the quality of technical staff in post,” Hatton said. “We’re teaching the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’. Employees will be more effective from day one and five to 10 years into their career, they will still be more effective as they will have that essential background training.”

Clear Cut is the leading post house in the trailblazer group, which also includes Molinare, Technicolor, MPC, Framestore, Deluxe, Fifty Fifty, Flix, Run VT and Pinewood Post.

“To take the pressure off the trailblazer’s time, the group has benefitted from funding for secretariat support from the high-end TV levy administered by Creative Skillset,” says Hatton.

Clear Cut managing director Rowan Bray (pictured above right) told Broadcast: “The post sector has always trained its technical staff according to the needs of each company, which can deliver variable results.

“A formalised scheme, responsive to our constantly changing technical needs and supported by government subsidy, would create a level playing field and deliver a fully skilled and transferable workforce.”

UK Screen hopes to have its standards approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships by the end of the year, with courses beginning in 2019.