Technical Theatre: Lighting, Sound & Stage (England)

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Framework details

Framework ID: FR00994
Issue number: 4
Issued: 08 December 2011

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Technical Theatre: Lighting, Sound & Stage (England)
(PDF document 4.36 MB)

Issued by
Creative and Cultural Skills

Contact name: Dearbhaile Church
Telephone number: 0207 0151809
Please download the framework for email contact information.


Technical Theatre plays a vital role in creating the right ambiance for audiences to enjoy theatrical performances.

Employers have highlighted these back-stage and off-stage jobs as particularly challenging for recruitment because each job is highly specialised. Progression routes are also difficult and there is a need for support moving into supervisory roles as well as recognised qualifications which are both supported and recognised by employers .

Technical Theatre is part of the Performing Arts Industry which has around 5,500 businesses, employing 100,000 people. The Performing Arts Industry is growing rapidly and 30,000 skilled workers will be required  in off stage/back stage roles by 2017 of which there is a forecast shortage of 6,000. 

The Performing Arts Industry is part of the wider creative and cultural sector which is experiencing a number of challenges which need to be addressed if businesses are to attract new talent into the industry and develop the skills they need:

  • over half of employers have recruitment issues because applicants lack experience, and about a quarter say that applicants lack the right specialist skills for the job
  • companies often recruit from the rich over-supply of general arts graduates and miss out on the wider pool of talent available from other areas of study or those without formal qualifications
  • skills gaps in the current workforce can lead to loss of existing business through poor delivery or impossible pressure on the workforce and the need to find time and finance for training
  • skills gaps include ICT, Marketing/Advertising and PR, Technical Skills, Business Development, Administration, Finance and Accounting, Digital Skills, Sales and Management
  • management skills are required to manage complex creative organisations often ‘not for profit’ and a need for progression pathways to enable staff to progress quickly from practitioner, supervisor, manager and to CEO
  • the industry is predominantly young and white; nearly 50% of the workforce is under 40 years of age, and evidence suggests that people drop out of the sector in significant numbers in their thirties and forties
  • the availability of finance and the ability to support investment in skills is key to the development and growth of the industry. 90% of business in the Performing Arts are micro-businesses (employing less than 10 people) and ensuring sufficient finance is in place to support all aspects of the business can be challenging
  • the consequence of a potential workforce that is highly qualified but skills deficient, is that businesses and employees in the industry and those wanting to work in the industry require re-skilling in specific areas to be adequately prepared for work, or to increase productivity for the sector itself. Funding for second level 3 or 4 qualifications is not always possible and thus the cost of such training falls either on the individual or the business providing the training.

This can be a huge burden on venues within in the industry as they are generally small and – more than the UK as a whole – are likely to be self-employed or freelancers. This can put great strain on the ability for businesses to fund and provide training for their staff. 

Amongst the future skills needs for the creative and cultural sector are:

  • Administrative skills
  • Business skills
  • Creative expertise
  • Digital skills
  • Finance/ accounting
  • Foreign language skills
  • Freelance Skills
  • Fundraising
  • ICT skills
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Online skills
  • Teaching skills

Employers are keen to increase the level of work based learning in order to change the culture of graduate recruitment to the Industry. They have helped to design the qualifications in this Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeship programme to ensure that it meets their current and future skills needs and at the same time, meets the requirements of the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England.

Depending on the qualification pathway taken, a Level 2 Intermediate Apprentice will train as;

Pathway 1 - Technical Theatre Support (Lighting)

Lighting Technician Assistants, Assistant Electrician, Board / Console Operator, Followspot Operator, Maintenance Technician.

Pathway 2 - Technical Theatre Support (Sound)

Assistant Sound Technician

Pathway 3 - Technial Theatre Support (Stage)

Stage Technician, Flyman.

Depending on the pathway taken, a Level 3 Advanced Apprentice will train as;

Pathway 1 - Technical Theatre (Lighting)

Lighting Technician (or Lead Lighting Technician), Senior Electrician / Deputy Head of Electrics, Board / Console Operator, Maintenance Supervisor / Manager

Pathway 2 - Technical Theatre  (Sound)

Senior Sound Technician

Pathway 3 - Technical Theatre (Stage)

Senior Stage Technician, Head Flyman

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Technical Theatre: Lighting, Sound & Stage (England)
(PDF document 4.36 MB)