The first official Apprenticeships for aspiring camera technicians are to launch this year after the scheme was delayed in 2020 due to the COVID crisis.

VMI Md, Barry Bassett, first contacted ScreenSkills in 2019 to investigate the possibility of a formal apprenticeship standard for UK Camera Rental companies.

The new “Camera Tech” Apprenticeship Standard was finally approved in February 2020 ready for its first intake in the spring of the same year before COVID struck.

The ‘Trailblazer Group’ comprising of several rental companies, have continued to be active during this period and are appraising the 4 x Training Providers, in order to award the contract to provide the Apprenticeship training during the next few months, thus allowing time for course material to be prepared ahead of the formal course launch.

The first intake is likely to be in September 2021 and the Camera Rental Industry is expected to recruit around 20 applicants in its first year.  Apprentices will be paid and work/train 4 days of the week in a rental house and spend 1 day per week studying at a training provider/college on day-release during the 2-year course.

The Apprenticeship training programme is specifically aimed at 16-19 year-old school leavers, although this would also be open to existing adults who may have already have received funding for high level training. Whilst in some situations sponsoring companies would need to fund training of older recruits, other options are also being explored.

A 2-year training programme which will take place whilst the Apprentice is working and will lead to a new Level 3 qualification recognised by the TV Industry.

The existing route into the industry sees Graduates joining camera rental companies as interns and then receiving ad-hoc on-the-job training.

Organisations expressing support for this new venture including ASPEC (Studio & Production Equipment Companies) which represents a number of UK rental companies, GTC (Guild of TV Camera Professionals), GBCT (Guild Of British Camera Technicians), Park Royal Business Group (PBRG) and a large number of camera rental companies.

Barry Bassett, Managing Director of VMI, dreamt up the project after he discovered that both VMI and many other camera rental companies were finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain camera technicians, so the idea was hatched to offer an alternative entry into the TV industry instead of attending university.  His idea was that formal vocational training could result in a formal recognised qualification and a full-time job which would suit local adults.

The Trailblazer Group was set up to design the full standard. This group initially included VMI, S+O Media, Panavision, Movietech, ARRI Rental, Shoot Blue, CVP, Focus 24, Shift-4, Brownian Motion, Take-2 and also CVP and later interest was expressed from Pro Motion, Aimimage, Visual Impact 24-7 & Pixi Pixel and also No Drama and Provision from Manchester and Progressive Media in Scotland. Several companies not originally involved are now keen to be involved when they are confident that business will return to acceptable levels.

Most companies comprising the Trailblazer group, plan to take on 2 apprentices when the scheme is formally launched in Summer/Autumn 2021 and the aim is that successful candidates will finish their 2-year apprenticeship by being awarded a Level 3 qualification once they have completed all the training and pass their assessment module in 2023.

At the end of the formal 2-year training period, successful Apprentices are guaranteed a full-time position with the company recruiting them as apprentices.

VMI’s Bassett has secured proposals from several Training Providers, mostly based in West London, including West London College, London Skills Academy, All Spring Media and ETC and the contract for the training of this new standard will be awarded to the successful Training Provider during March 2021.

The apprenticeship has been launched on the Government IoC website.

Any companies wishing to signify their interest in taking on “Camera Tech” apprenticeships in September or alternatively any individuals wishing to be considered as a potential apprenticeship candidate, should contact the Next Gen Skills academy by clicking on this link.

Jon Creamer