Production Futures, the organisation founded to create opportunities for young people to learn, train, network and develop real careers in every sector of the production industries, has announced a partnership with Cheshire College – South and West. The arrangement sees the College’s Programme Leader for Events and Technical Theatre, Angie Berwick, become Production Futures’ Education Ambassador, a role which it is hoped will lead the way to groundbreaking collaborations with a variety of education institutes across the UK.
Angie is well-placed to take on the challenge, combining as she does her Programme Leader role with more than twenty years’ experience of running her own events business. She will provide expert strategic advice to Production Futures on the needs of young people in education, as well as working with education providers to raise awareness of the opportunities within the production industries, helping them to develop job-ready talent when the time is right. The existential threat to courses connected with production has never been greater, so Production Futures Chief Executive, Hannah Eakins, believes that working directly with education institutions to maintain the visibility of the industry to government, parents and young people, has never been more important.
“A better understanding of, and closer relationship with, the education sector is key to our aim of ensuring that there is a consistent pipeline of talent entering the production industry. We’ve worked informally with Cheshire College as a partner for some years, but meeting Angie in person, and enjoying a lengthy discussion about improving the connections between education and opportunities in our industry, showed us that our views were very closely aligned.
“Angie has experience of linking her students with the industry, having worked closely with Robe Lighting and lighting designer Tim Routledge in this area. We realised that if we combined our passion, effort and knowledge, we could work together to create a wider collaboration between industry and education to include FE, HE and apprenticeships.”
For too long, according to Hannah, the industry has relied on a ‘right place, right time’ scenario, or drawn from a relatively limited pool of enthusiasts. In a fast-growing sector like the production industries, she considers this wholly unsustainable:
“We need to create awareness and improve knowledge of the sector amongst young people AND parents as a matter of urgency. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ – we want young people to be able to take advantage of every pathway into what is an exciting and rewarding industry, and which offers an incredible variety of roles. Whether that’s by progressing through further and higher education, via apprenticeships, or straight into full time employment, we need to open doors.
“This partnership is the beginning of a very exciting collaboration with the education sector, with Angie’s expertise and the example set by Cheshire College leading the way. We look forward to working closely together to ensure that we serve the best interests of young people and encourage more and more education institutions to join our mission.”
Cheshire College offers Technical Theatre courses ranging from Level 3 to Level 5, and the department provides students with the practical training and industry experience to become fully qualified, confident and skilled employees within the sector.
Throughout students’ time at the College, they have access to recording and sequencing studios and a fully equipped theatre with control desks, lighting, and staging equipment.
On the new partnership, Angie Berwick says: “It is very humbling to be invited to be a part of Production Futures’ efforts to link the production industry with education institutions across the country. In my role at Cheshire College, I have seen so many students progress into the role of their dreams with the skills and confidence they learn with us.
“As Education Ambassador, I am looking forward to sharing my experience and advice on a national stage, growing the community and providing more opportunities for those wishing to have a successful career in production.”
Paul Browne, Assistant Principal of Curriculum at Cheshire College, adds: “It has been fantastic to see the relationship between Production Futures and the College grow over the years. We are thankful for their support and advocacy within the industry, promoting the necessary technical training students require to gain sustainable and diverse employment within the sector.
“We have no doubt that Angie will be an asset to the team, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact this partnership creates.”
Lighting designer Tim Routledge concludes:
“Angie is a huge supporter of her students, and I couldn’t have been prouder of the 2 students that came to work on the ESC with us who were a credit to the college and the hard work and talent that is available in the area.”
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