AN apprentice scheme in South Tyneside is being hailed as a national blueprint for getting youngsters into a career in the arts.
South Tyneside Council set up the Cultural Venues Consortium as part of a drive to create more apprenticeships in the borough, giving teenagers the opportunity to work at a number of arts venues.
The 14 apprentices have worked at the Customs House over the busy pantomime period, and now some will have spells at Bede’s World, Souter Lighthouse and South Shields Museum. The scheme was recently highlighted at an Arts Council England conference, which looked at how to nurture talent within the arts, with the Cultural Venues Consortium held up as an exciting development that could possibly be copied elsewhere.
Ray Spencer, Customs House executive director, said: “Our apprentices have worked within customer service, front of house, technical, catering and admin, so they’ve had a real flavour of a number of different areas within the theatre.
“The fact that they were here during the pantomime means they really got a taste of what it’s like when we are at our absolute busiest.”
The apprentices have also been able to take part in a drama workshop, where they were given mock interviews in a bid to help increase their confidence, which were then filmed.
Mr Spencer added: “They will be getting copies of their interviews, which hopefully will help them see what areas they might need to work on before they go for a real job.”
Daniel Grimmer is based at The Customs House in the admin department, where he has worked since October.
The 23-year-old said: “I dropped out of university, but I knew I wanted to work in admin, so this was a great opportunity for me.
“I’ve had a very varied workload.
“I’ve been involved in general admin, in marketing and taking minutes at meetings, so it means I’ll be able to show that I’ve had a lot of different kinds of experience, which can only help me going forward.”
The success of apprentice schemes in South Tyneside are being highlighted as part of this year’s National Apprentice Week.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, said the Cultural Venues Consortium was a great example of how successful apprenticeship schemes were in the borough.
He said: “It is fantastic to see how South Tyneside is leading the way with this innovative scheme, which is giving young people a chance to see many different aspects of the arts under one scheme.
“It’s yet another example of how organisations can work together and benefit from giving young people an opportunity to shine.”