Information for employers

NextGen Apprenticeships, delivered at Westminster Kingsway College, have been designed by industry Trailbazers to develop core skills and enable progression within the VFX industry. The Junior 2D Artist and Assistant Technical Director apprenticeship standards are roles that lead to recognised positions within the VFX industry. For students, an 18-year old who chooses an apprenticeship over a degree course is guaranteeing that everything they learn at college and on the job is helping them build a career. Employers who hire apprentices develop talent at an early career stage in to competent and effective professionals.

When are you recruiting?

NextGen will be taking applications for VFX apprentices from 31st January until 26th April. We are recruiting apprentices to start in mid-September 2020.

How does it work?

When applications close a first sift is done by NextGen and the applicants are graded from 1 to 5 for potential. The applicants can indicate whether they feel suited to Assistant Technical Director or Junior 2D Artist posts, but employers can shortlist them for what they judge to be the best fit. Companies return their shortlists to NextGen. If an applicant is short listed by more than one company, they will be invited to an Assessment day.  Applicants who are shortlisted by a single company can be contacted directly by them. But not until everyone’s shortlist has been received by NextGen.

Assessment days are collaborative and are organised by NextGen and hosted by Westminster Kingsway College (WKC), the preferred training provider for VFX apprenticeships. Companies come together to participate in group Assessment days with the applicants, where we explore problem solving and team working skills. The applicants are interviewed as groups by panels from each company at each Assessment day. Some employers are happy to short list at that point, and some like to have a follow up one to one interview. No applicant can be made an offer until NextGen has received every company’s final selection. Offers are made via email on an agreed date. We do this so that applicants don’t just say “yes” to the first offer they receive. Hiring the talent is competitive, but we want it to be fair for each company and applicant.

How does funding work? Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund with UK Screen Alliance

Funding for training apprentices is not just available to Apprentice Levy paying companies. Companies who don’t pay the levy, or have a small amount in their levy pot, can also access funding. Government pays up to 90% of training costs for SMEs, but UK Screen Alliance can arrange for 100% of training costs to be funded.

Large employers across the UK have found it difficult to spend all of the credits in their Levy accounts. In order to save money being returned to HM Treasury and to benefit the wider industry, UK Screen Alliance have set up the Apprentices Levy Transfer Fund, or ALT Fund. Large employers have pledged a minimum of £150,000 to the ALT Fund to enable smaller employers to train apprentices.To find out if your company can access funds and about the process involved email Neil Hatton: neil@ukscreenalliance.co.uk

VFX Apprentices learn in the college and the studio

Westminster Kingsway College are the preferred training supplier chosen by industry for VFX Apprenticeships. They believe that apprentice training should be industry relevant and empower apprentices to become competent professionals.

They specialise in block release training with an intensive first month in college, embedding the basic skills that apprentices need to start being productive in the workplace. Current industry practitioners (aka Master Technicians) deliver key parts of the college training, providing industry context for college studies and sharing up to date skills. The Master Technicians are supported by teaching staff too, ensuring a high-quality learning experience for the apprentices.

The apprentices’ studies and developing work skills equip them for the End Point Assessment (EPA). Key parts of the assessment are a reflective blog/diary and a professional discussion. These elements in particular enable apprentices to prepare for their EPA throughout their training. Apprentices are encouraged to “take ownership” of their EPA, which is a demonstration of the professional abilities and not just a test to be passed.

Key Dates to keep in mind

31st January - Applications open
26th April - Applications close (11pm)
27th April to 1st May - First sift and grading for potential
4th May - Employers receive sifted and graded applications
20th May - Employers return their short lists for the Assessment day
Week commencing 15th June - Assessment days held
Apprentice start dates - 14th September (tbc)

What do you need to do now to employ a VFX Apprentice?

Get in touch
On the web application page the list of companies that we expect will recruit apprentices includes Framestore, DNEG, The Mill, Jellyfish Pictures and ILM. We’ll update the list as soon as other companies tell us they are interested. If you’d like to join the group of companies recruiting through NextGen please contact Phil Attfield: phil.attfield@nextgenskillsacademy.com

Check if you have any questions
As well as adding companies to our published list of recruiting employers we’ll connect you to WKC’s account management team. They’ll help you with queries around levy funding, applicants’ prior learning assessments and registering vacancies with the national apprenticeship service. The senior account manager at WKC for VFX employers is Luke Mills: luke.mills@capitalcct.ac.uk.

Write a job description
It’s very important that you have an up to date job description for the role your apprentice will have in your company. A detailed job description will help WKC and NextGen advise you on the suitability of the apprenticeship for a job role.At the end of every apprenticeship there is an End Point Assessment (EPA) that an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) provides. Apprentices should be enrolled by training providers with an EPAO at the start of their apprenticeship. Increasingly, EPAOs are becoming wary of apprentices being enrolled on unsuitable courses. That hasn’t happened in VFX, but because it has happened elsewhere EPAOs will want to see a job description for each apprentice that is enrolled with them.