In September 2016, the Royal Albert Hall launched its first ever apprenticeship scheme, welcoming in Hannah Talbot (19) and Nathan Wallis (20) as the first Show Technician Apprentices to work in the building.

Their training involves hands-on experience in everything from lighting and sound to rigging. Despite working full-time at the Hall, office days also provide time for the pair to complete written assessments and online tasks that deepen their knowledge of the venue and the industry, which all counts towards gaining their Level 3 in Technical Theatre with the National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries.

New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise

Since starting at the Hall, Hannah and Nathan have had unrivalled networking opportunities to meet the industry’s best artists and designers, setting them up for the next step in their career than any university course ever could.

‘The benefits that the apprenticeship scheme has brought my career have been invaluable. I’m building up a huge network of contacts of the best in the industry from designers to the artists themselves. The support has been astounding and the skills and tips I’m learning from co-workers are setting me up for the next step in my career.’
Hannah, Show Technician Apprentice

New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise

Hannah and Nathan knew early on that university wasn’t right for them – despite being pressured by peers and teachers to apply they didn’t see this as a route in to the industry. From volunteering at local churches and community centres they went on to slightly bigger projects, such as Gay Pride in Brighton, before discovering the Hall’s apprenticeship scheme.

‘I knew at school that going to university wouldn’t be for me, I learn with my hands so wanted something a lot more practical. An apprenticeship is perfect for me. I feel taking this route has put me way ahead of my peers, not only am I gaining a professional qualification but I am gaining invaluable work experience at the same time. I am also making some great industry contacts; the apprenticeship is really opening a lot of doors for me and my future.’
Nathan, Show Technician Apprentice

New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise

This apprenticeship has given Hannah and Nathan both a head start in their career in the industry and sets them miles ahead of friends studying at university.

‘The scheme has given me the chance to keep learning while progressing my career beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve learnt about the political and social changes that have impacted the industry and I’m putting the theory learnings in to practice. In comparison to my friends who have gone to university I’m miles ahead and gained tangible skills that will continue to advance me in the future.’
Hannah, Show Technician Apprentice

New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise
New apprentice scheme launched at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andy Paradise

Photos © Andy Paradise / Royal Albert Hall