#Bethefirst: How Young Technicians Academy is training future professionals

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It offers training to young people in performing and production arts, including sound, lighting, stage and event management, and media production and has attracted dozens of aspiring young talents since it opened its doors last year.  

However, the service took a “massive hammering during the pandemic”, with the academy trying to stay afloat by offering online sessions. 

It predominantly relies on parent-subscriptions to keep the place running, but also benefits from a small amount of funding from lottery funds, but this is ring-fenced which limits how the academy can use the funds. 

They currently also run a schools programme offering technical workshops and have five schools on board. 

This is a huge opportunity for the academy who are now keen to build on this and work with more schools. 

Peterborough Matters paid them a visit to find out how they have coped over the last six months and their plans going forward. 

Business Development Manager Harrison Fuller said: “We are launching a new B-Tec course in production arts in September that will hopefully bring in some more revenue. But otherwise we are keen on all the lots of funding we can get. 

“Currently, we have in-house tutors who do lighting, performing arts, sound and lighting, musicians – not a huge amount but got about eight tutors on the books. We also have some freelance teachers. But as we expand, we will need more of them. 

“It’s my aim to provide jobs for musicians and tutors. I have had meetings with several stakeholders in city – to enhance the events industry in the city. But it’s not quite at that level yet to sustain more staff. 

“We are training these people but they are off to Leeds or Manchester or London, so we need to give them a reason to stay local and find work in the city. 

“We work closely with Yaxley festival - 35,000 people attend that annual event. 

“At the last count, 60 bands had applied for this year's event– we will run the stages for it – two stages this year. 

"What a great thing to put on their CV for these young technicians at our academy. 

“Last September, we did six festivals in a month. We are quite involved with the Cambridgeshire County Day at the Newmarket racecourse.  

“We have been doing some promo videos with the Lieutenant. We will be running a stage there. We want to showcase the talent in our area. 

“There’s a garden party with corporate sponsors along with horse races. They are raising money for children's hospital at Addenbrookes. A royal visit is also on the cards. 

“We have a slot booked for our band to go and perform. Our sister company, Fenland Youth Radio is going to be there as well - working alongside BBC Cambs who are the media partners for the event. 

"It’s again going to be a great opportunity to link young people with these networks – and offer them a chance to pick up these life skills and new world experiences. 

“Another thing we are looking forward to is possibly working with Anglia Ruskin University. I have meetings planned with them.

"ARU Peterborough is looking to  offer an events management degree as part of their range of new courses. They are working with local organisations to make sure the degrees offered reflect what’s needed.

“So, we can offer something new and different to say a wedding or hotel. We would like to be all about new world experience. 

“Going forward, the academy is looking to take on board more students and is planning an open day shortly. The first one was held in September last year which turned out to be popular.” 

Students who have trained at the academy previously have shared their experiences of "picking up valuable skills".

Thomas said: “Young Technicians has opened up a huge amount of opportunities that you will not get anywhere else at this age. I have had the chance to work in a proper industry environment. As a performer, it is great to see what goes on backstage." 

Owen B said: “I can say that I really enjoyed being a student at Young Technicians CIC. I used to go to Sawtry Village Academy the tutors of the scheme were ace. They taught me self-confidence and how to progress in this industry.  

“I love everything about it. I now also work with the tutors in my spare time as feel that they have done so much for me and I want to give back to the students there now. Thank you and you guys are awesome."

Hannah added: “I have been involved in both festival scenarios and theatre productions; and I truly believe – and this is what makes this scheme so unique – that I would not be where and who I am now without those hands-on experiences since day one.  

“However, not only have I developed my skills in event production, but I have also become a more confident, responsible person. I have met loads of new people in the industry and discovered that everyone started off the same as I have and so I have really taken their advice on board and bettered myself.  

“I would 100% recommend this scheme to anybody as it is so rewarding and character building and it gives you a perfect mixture of theory and practical knowledge to become an expert in your field.  I promise you won’t regret it.”

Ben said: "Since joining the Young Technicians scheme two years ago, my knowledge of the live entertainment industry has expanded tenfold. I would recommend it to anyone and say that it both fun and educational for all members."

Six months into the launch, things are starting to look exciting for the academy despite pandemic bringing in challenges. 

Last week, Young Technicians Academy announced Stuart Gibbons OBE as patron of the Academy, alongside actors Hayley Burroughs and Annabelle Davis as performing arts patrons. 

The announcement comes as the academy celebrates six months since opening its first building in Yaxley. 

Stuart is the joint managing director of Le Mark Group, an international supplier in the arts and entertainment industry. 

On his appointment as patron, Mr Gibbons said: ‘The Young Technicians Academy is a unique and much needed facility, training the next generation of events and entertainment personnel. I am honoured to be appointed as patron happy to lend my support to their endeavours.’ 

Hayley Burroughs said: ‘It’s nice to be able to help younger generations to get into the industry. I want to support where I can, helping others to get the best opportunities.’ 

Annabelle Davis added: "It's an honour to be an ambassador for The Young Technicians Academy. I'm excited to see young people realise their talent and start working with them in the industry!"

The announcement of Patrons coincides with the launch of its BTEC programme. 

The first cohort will start in September 2022 and students will be able to choose between performing arts and production arts.  

These post 16 qualifications are unique to the area, giving learners a wider option for their studies and helping to plug skills gap created in the industry as a result of the pandemic. Applications are currently being taken and are available by contacting reception@youngtechacademy.co.uk 

More information on the Young Technician Academy can be found here.

This piece is brought to you in partnership with ARU Peterborough - #bethefirst. To find out more about courses at Peterborough's new university which opens in September 2022, click here