New theatre apprenticeship shines a light on college student talent

A local college and a Newcastle-based theatre company have teamed up to provide an apprenticeship for a new generation of creative talent keen to learn back stage skills.

Live Theatre, based on the Newcastle Quayside, has taken on 18-year-old Gateshead College student Craig Spence as a technical apprentice, a back-stage role which will see him gain the skills for a career in theatre sound and lighting.

The apprenticeship meets the needs of a creative sector that’s facing a skills gap and needs to recruit new talent to meet current and future employer needs.

Chief executive of Live Theatre, Jim Beirne, said: “There is certainly a skills gap in the arena of stage, production and technical skills, so schemes such as the one introduced by Gateshead College are important because they bring new and skilled young people into the industry.

“The partnership between Gateshead College and Live Theatre provides learning and real world experience for apprentices, which makes them much more employable in our industry.

“Not only is it an advantage for learners but also employers. Their knowledge is often more comprehensive because of the consistent education they receive along with the hands on experience they gain in their role.”

The apprenticeship, which consists of two days a month at college and full time hours at Live Theatre, will see Craig gain the theoretical industry knowledge as well as practical experience at the hands of one of the country’s leading new writing theatres.

This is the latest success for the partnership that saw Gateshead College and Live Theatre launch its first Level 3 BTEC in Stage and Media Production in 2011.

Craig Spence from Killingworth became a committed and valued member of the team after beating several other candidates to the role of apprentice at Live Theatre..

He completed Gateshead College and Live Theatre’s BTEC in Stage and Media Production before gaining his apprenticeship, which also involves studying Principals of the Creative and Cultural Industry at Gateshead College.

He said: “I have always been interested in gigs and the theatre, so to gain an apprenticeship within the sector, especially at Live Theatre, was a dream come true.

“This particular way of getting into employment holds the advantage of being able to gain experience in a full time job role whilst constantly building your technical knowledge through attending college.”

For further information on Gateshead College apprenticeships, call 0191 490 4636 or e-mail or visit