SHAKESPEARE once said all the world’s a stage and that is certainly the case for Jamie Ashwell, an Education Events & Tours Apprentice for the Royal Opera House, who is predominantly based at the new Production Park in Thurrock.
Jamie, 20 from Grays, already had an offer from a university to study a Stage Management degree but decided the best route for him was of ‘leading man’ in the role of an Apprentice.
The supporting role of delivering the Apprenticeship framework is played by South Essex College. The College and the Royal Opera House work as a team to support the Apprentices so that they can get the most of the opportunity that they have.
Jamie said: “Working for the Royal Opera house is an incredible thing for me because they are a world leading organisation within the arts. With an Apprenticeship you work on real projects and get two years of intensive support and training in a work place environment.”
“Doing an Apprenticeship has many advantages; one of course is money because you get paid to be an apprentice. Secondly you work with leading practitioners in the industry which you wouldn’t necessarily get when going into a job or doing a uni course.”
And the important role that he plays is clearly very much appreciated. “18 months in and we are starting to think what ever are we going to do without him?” So enthused Gabrielle Forster-Still, the Skills and Education Manager at the Royal Opera House about Jamie.
The large arts organisation is very keen on developing skills with young people and one of the many areas the Opera House thought they could contribute was by taking on Apprentice.
Gabrielle said: “We feel there is maybe a little bit of a gap for young people who either do a degree and then want to go that route but for young people who want to go straight into work and find skills through working we feel that is something we can offer, we’ve got some exciting opportunities.”
The Royal Opera House needs people who are trained and skilled in the type of work that they do. In their costume or make-up departments people with degrees apply for jobs but they don’t necessarily have the technical skills or work experience that they require.
Gabrielle added: “An Apprentice does get that as they get that directly from us so we can kind of give them the skills we know they will need. All the Apprentices have to do a qualification that’s part of their training we have them with us for two years and South Essex College supports all the training that goes around that so we identify with the College all the units that we think are appropriate for the Apprentice to study.”
Jamie has also been rubbing shoulders with Royalty as he explained: “One of the many highlights of my Apprenticeship was when I met the Duke of Kent, he came to the site here because he wanted to find out what we do and also what we do for the community in Thurrock. I got to shake his hand and have a short conversation with him. He pointed at the other members of staff and said ‘keep learning from them.”
That is clearly something Jamie is aiming to do and he is really enjoying the opportunity that has been given to him. You could almost say that he sees this Apprenticeship as a dress rehearsal for his future career in the Arts.
Jamie concluded: “Understanding all the things that go into a production, from walking around backstage and various department is great, it’s a very inspiring place to be and I’m sure will help me with my career in the future.”
Image: Jamie Ashwell/ Gabrielle Forster-Still