Islington’s young people get creative with apprenticeships

Young people in Islington are setting out on paid creative apprenticeships and internships that will see them work with major arts and cultural organisations in the borough.
Almeida Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Park Theatre, Little Angel Theatre, and The Arts Catalyst have offered paid apprenticeships and internships to ten 16-24-year-olds in 2016. More organisations are expected to offer similar positions during National Apprenticeship Week this week. 
Since 2013 Islington Council has worked with 14 local arts organisations to create 35 new paid creative opportunities for at least 30 hours a week, lasting six-to-twelve months. 
These include working with production teams to oversee the casting, rehearsing, and production of theatre shows and supporting global tours of internationally-known dance companies. 
Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, said: “Paid apprenticeships and internships are a great opportunity for young people to get a first step into work. 
“The council has come together with theatres, agencies, production companies and community organisations to create exciting and challenging opportunities for local young people. Paid apprenticeships such as these are a great option for all young people that are interested in the world of film, theatre, and the creative industries more broadly.  
“The organisations we have worked with already bring so much to Islington, and I am pleased they have recognised the importance of giving the next generation the support they need to succeed.”
Bessie, 21, completed a paid technical theatre apprenticeship with Park Theatre last year. She then worked as an assistant stage manager for the theatre’s Christmas production of Rapunzel and has since got a job as a stage manager for a small production company in a pub theatre in North London. “I’ll be doing loads of different jobs – costumes, props, design, and lighting.” 
Speaking of her experience as an apprentice, Bessie said: “I’d heard of apprenticeships before, but not like this. I applied and, before I knew it, I was an apprentice! It’s definitely worth it. I’ve always wanted to work in a theatre.”
She continued: “It really sunk into me when my pay started coming in weekly. [I thought to myself] ‘I just got paid for doing something that didn’t feel like work!’ It’s just so rewarding.”
In 2014, the independent Islington Employment Commission found that careers education, employability, and vocational education are not good enough in many schools, and that young people do not have enough opportunities at school or college to get a better understanding of the world of work.
It also found that most young people in the borough are ambitious, determined to succeed, and realistic about starting from the bottom and working their way up. It called for the council and local community to work together to give young people the support they need to get the careers they deserve. 
Since the publication of the report, Islington Council has itself recruited nearly 30 paid apprentices. Many other local employers, including global law firms Linklaters and Slaughter and May, and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurants have also taken on young people from the borough.
Any young person aged between 16 and 24 who might be interested in undertaking a creative apprenticeship or internship and would like to find out more should email

Notes to editors

Recent research reveals that apprenticeships are still perceived by many parents as an option for the less academically able. Polling for the think tank Demos showed parents are considerably more likely to say that apprenticeships are a good option for young people who struggle at school (86% agreed) than for those who achieve highly (57%).

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