Information for Employers - Junior VFX Apprentices

Fill your skills gaps, increase the diversity of your workforce, and offer a route into the industry other than university. You can offer a talented young person an opportunity to learn on the job within your studio.

What Apprentice positions are there?

Following consultation between studios and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) there is now one Higher Level Apprenticeship Standard for Visual Effects, which has three specialisms within it.

This new Junior Visual Effects Apprenticeship Standard has specialisms for the following roles:

The core content, and the specialisms, were designed and approved by industry Trailblazers to develop technical skills and enable progression within the creative industries. The link above takes you to the full Apprenticeship Standard so you can find out more about the competencies that a VFX apprentice will develop in your studio.

When are you recruiting?

NextGen is hoping to recruit for three cohorts of Junior Visual Effects Apprentices over the next sixteen months, with apprentices starting with employers in October 2024, February 2025, and October 2025.

If you have an existing employee, perhaps someone in a client service or studio support role, an apprenticeship can be a progression route for them. They would continue to work for you, but spend the equivalent of one day a week 'off-the-job' learning with the training provider to further develop the competencies they need to perform in your studio.

How does the training programme work?

All potential apprentices that NextGen shortlists will demonstrate emerging artistic and technical skills needed for their role. VFX apprentices are the raw talent that you can guide into the job roles you need to fill to enable your studio to grow. Following onboarding, and an assessment of their prior learning with the training provider, the training and employment can begin.

Westminster Kingsway College (WKC) have trained multiple cohorts of VFX apprentices in recent years, and want to collaborate with studios to determine the training delivery schedule that best suits the majority of studios.

Based on recent feedback, a ‘front loaded’ model seems the most likely, as opposed to traditional ‘day release’. Training provider, WKC will work with successful candidates before they start their role with you, helping to embed the basic skills that apprentices need to start being productive in the workplace.

Current industry practitioners (aka Master Technicians) deliver key parts of the 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.

Hiring an apprentice means you get to pass down your skills and knowledge to the next generation of talent, empowering them with work experience that no other qualification can offer. There is a time commitment from you (as there is with taking any new recruit), but you will find taking on an apprentice a rewarding and worthwhile way to recruit new talent.

'Off-the-job' training for Junior Visual Effects Apprentices takes place in London at WKC’s newly refurbished hub in Soho, so employers must be willing for their apprentice to attend.

How does the recruitment process work?

To take the stress out of the hiring process NextGen handles all the application and sifting process. Here are the steps once applications close.

Application Review and Shortlisting:

NextGen conducts a through sift of all applications, removing incomplete or those that are not eligible, and grades eligible applicants on a scale of 1 to 10 for potential.

Employers receive access to a dashboard with anonymised applications, where you can see the applicants answers/portfolios plus NextGen’s scores and comments. Employers use this information to create a shortlist and submit it to NextGen, applicants that are shortlisted by multiple companies are invited to a group Assessment Day.

Assessment Days, Selecting Candidates, and Offers of Employment:

Assessment Days are organised by NextGen in a central London location. During these events employers and applicants engage in group activities to assess problem-solving and teamwork skills, before group interviews are conducted by company panels. Follow-up one-on-one interviews may be requested by some employers.

Following this process Final Selections and Offers of Employment are submitted to NextGen. No Offers of Employment are made to candidates until NextGen receives all final selections, then offers are sent via email on an agreed date. This process ensures fairness and allows applicants to consider all their options.

How much does hiring an apprentice cost?

To help NextGen facilitate the above there is a one-time registration fee of £250 per cohort recruitment round, to be payable by each employer at the start of the recruitment process. This gives you access to the anonymised candidate applications and recruitment dashboard. We are expecting a good number of high-quality candidates, and this is a great way to see what young talent and potential is out there.

Following the full recruitment process, if you hire a Junior Visual Effects apprentice there is a flat fee of £500 payable to NextGen for each apprentice hired. Once an Offer of Employment is made and accepted, apprentices become paid members of staff within your company, with the same contract obligations, holiday, and employment rights as your existing employees.

In terms of salary, NextGen is advocating that all apprentices are paid the London Living Wage, currently set at £13.15 per hour. This has beneficial impacts: it reflects the high cost of living and in a competitive skills market it will make VFX apprenticeships more attractive, plus it will remove hurdles to being able to access these opportunities for socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

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

Funding for training apprentices is not just available to Apprentice Levy paying companies. For new starts from 1 April 2024, for employers who do not pay the levy, the government will fully fund apprenticeship training costs, up to the funding band maximum for apprentices who at the start of their apprenticeship training are aged between:

16 and 21 years old (or 15 years of age if the apprentice’s 16th birthday is between the last Friday of June and 31 August)
22 and 24 years old and: - has either an education, health and care (EHC) plan provided by their local authority and / or has been in the care of their local authority; and - their employer has fewer than 50 employees

If your apprentice does not fit in the above categories, you're an employer who doesn't pay the apprenticeship levy, or if you're a levy-paying employer but don't have enough funds, you'll need to pay 5% of the training and assessment costs for your apprentice. The government will cover the rest, up to the funding band maximum. If this is a barrier to hiring please contact us and we can connect you with UK Screen Alliance who will be able to advise on possible levy transfers.

More information can be found on the ifATE website here: Funding an apprenticeship for non-levy employers

Key Dates to keep in mind

Late August 2024 - Applications close
Early September 2024 - First sift of applications and grading for potential
Early September 2024 - Employers receive sifted and graded applications, they then return their shortlist for the assessment day
Late September 2024 - Assessment days held
Early October 2024 - Final Selections and Offers of Employment are made to candidates
Apprentice start dates - Late October 2024

What do you need to do now to employ an Apprentice?

Get in touch with NextGen

If you’d like to join the group of  companies recruiting through NextGen please contact Phil Attfield:

You must also complete our Employer Participation Survey - VFX Apprenticeships 2024/25, this helps us to understand your recruitment goals and timeline.

Check if you have any questions

As well as adding companies to our published list of recruiting employers we’ll connect you to our training provider'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.

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 NextGen and our training providers 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 with our apprenticeships so far, but because it has happened elsewhere EPAOs will want to see a job description for each apprentice that is enrolled with them.