Old Vic theatre’s employability scheme expands to improve social mobility in south London

The Old Vic theatre has expanded its employability scheme in an effort to boost social mobility and increase access to creative industries in south London.

The scheme, Front Line, started in 2015 and runs six times a year, providing paid work experience to 16-25 year-olds to develop communication, customer service and people skills alongside CV workshops and planning next steps with participants.

This year the scheme, with support from Lambeth Council and the Mayor of London, received a London Borough of Culture Cultural Impact Award to roll out the scheme to six other organisations – the Garden Museum, Morley College London, Omnibus Theatre, Pop Brixton, Southbank Centre and the Streatham Space Project.

Education and Community Director at The Old Vic, Hannah Fosker, said: “There are now more than two million jobs in the creative industries, accounting for one in 11 jobs across the UK and it is one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy.

“We need to raise awareness of the variety of roles that exist and equip school-leavers for them. Participating in theatre offers a range of soft skills – communication, resilience, confidence, creative imagination, empathy – that are crucial no matter what sector you ultimately work in, as well as to your home life and personal growth.

“Given that 85% of available job types in 2030 don’t exist yet, offering training in these soft skills will equip participants for any eventuality in the workplace and life in general.”

To develop the Front Line programme, The Old Vic considered how best to develop the Youth Employment UK’s Employment Review’s crucial skills for success – communication, teamwork, problem solving, self-belief and self-management.

A previous Front Line participant said: “Thank you for this once in a lifetime opportunity, creating such an inspiring, thriving environment and sharing so much wisdom in such a structured, manageable and motivational way.

“I think we all feel inspired and empowered and prepared to go out into the world.”

In Lambeth, the expansion of the programme will build on The Old Vic’s scheme as part of the ELEVATE programme to increase access to the creative industries for young people in the borough, giving young people experience ranging from event and space management, to digital marketing, curation and sound recording depending on the venue.

Leader of Lambeth Council Councillor Jack Hopkins said: “Lambeth is well-known as a borough with wonderful art and culture, and is leading the way in attracting creative and digital businesses, but there is often a stark lack of diversity in these thriving sectors of the economy.

“The ELEVATE programme is going to be instrumental in helping us tackle this and to discover, nurture and promote creative talent from those communities and groups that are currently underrepresented.”

Feature image credit: Manuel Harlan

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