Smaller post houses will be able to claim back the estimated £9,000 cost of new apprenticeship scheme for machine operators


An industry-backed apprenticeship scheme for post-production technical operators is set to go live from September.

It comes after a new apprenticeship standard for post technical operators was approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA).

The standard has been developed by a group of ‘Trailblazer’ employers including Clear Cut Pictures, Technicolor, MPC, Fifty Fifty Post, Molinare, Company 3, Encore, Run VT, Edit Store, Platform and Pinewood.

The level 4 apprenticeship, equivalent to an HNC qualification, will lead to jobs as machine room operators in post-production companies, VFX houses and specialist content delivery companies. It is also suitable for operators who support the creative process within in-house production facilities.

Chair of the Trailblazer group, Rowan Bray, MD of Clear Cut said: “Post production technical operators are key to smooth running of a post-production facility. The role became more challenging following the transition to end-to-end digital workflows and this apprenticeship will provide the essential knowledge and skills to give trainees a solid foundation for a successful career.”

The course will cover best practice for media ingest, storage management, media export, secure digital despatch, support for creative colleagues in content finishing and quality assessment of finished content. Trainees will be assessed for “operational competence” after the 12-month apprenticeship by a multiple-choice exam, a professional discussion and practical tests under the eye of an independent assessor.

Two years in-the-making, the development of the apprenticeship was assisted by secretariat support paid for by the High-end TV Skills Fund administered by ScreenSkills.

Kaye Elliott, Director of the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund, said: “We wanted to support the development of this apprenticeship because technical operators are such an important part of the post-production process and we know that the technical demands are increasing all the time. It is also part of our broader work using industry contributions to the skills fund to help find, train and retain the skilled and inclusive workforce that high-end television production needs.”

Industry trade body, UK Screen Alliance has backed the apprenticeship from the start and CEO, Neil Hatton is one of its key authors. “We want to raise the bar in technical skills for post production operators by ensuring that they don’t just learn how to do the necessary tasks by rote but instead have a deeper understanding of the theory behind the operational best practice as well,” said Hatton.

Apprentices will spend 20% of their working time in off-the-job training delivered by an approved training provider or college, whilst the remaining 80% is practical on-the-job training and experience provided by their employer.

The training is expected to cost around £9,000 per apprentice. As this apprenticeship has been fully approved by the IfA, larger companies can purchase the off-the-job training out of their compulsory Apprenticeship Levy payments, however smaller companies can receive a full subsidy to cover these costs.

Hatton explained: “The government will pay 95% of the apprenticeship training cost for non-levy paying employers but UK Screen can better that. We have obtained promises from large employers in our sector with unspent levy, that they will donate a portion of that to small employers which will then cover 100% of the training costs. UK Screen’s role is to act as dating-agency to connect willing levy donors to smaller companies wanting to employ apprentices and to facilitate that transfer.”

The next step for the Trailblazer Group is to run a tendering process to select one or more preferred training providers with the aim of delivering training from September, synchronised with the academic year intake.