Finding a future at the Beeb

BBC apprentice Thomas Cave is sure that playing a part in BECTU’s young members’ forum will help him develop his career once he completes his apprenticeship with the national broadcaster.

Thomas Cave from BECTU
©JessHurd

Thomas Cave is a BECTU member and a Broadcast Engineering Apprentice based in MediaCity, Manchester.

Thomas said:

Applying to be an apprentice for the BBC was a no-brainer for me!”

Not only is the training cost fully covered but the course content, which is reviewed regularly, is crafted by a working group supported by industry leaders, who discuss if there are any skills gaps in the industry.”

This means that at the end of the apprenticeship, I am trained to the specific needs of the industry and have gained hands-on knowledge working with many teams.”

The hands-on approach of the programme is one of the big pluses for Thomas.

I have gained so many practical skills on my apprenticeship – it’s designed to take you on a journey across many fields of the broadcast chain, all the way from source to transmission and everywhere in between!”

In addition to the training scheduled through his apprenticeship, Thomas has gained additional learning opportunities through his BECTU membership card and regularly attends the union’s young members’ forum, which meets several times a year.

The forum allows young members to talk in an open and safe environment, while allowing for the committee to submit motions to National Executive Committee, giving us a voice in the union’s activities.”

Earlier this year, Thomas was also a speaker on one of the panels at BECTU’s latest Find Your Future careers event at Westminster Kingsway College, which the union regularly organises to help 16- to 24-year-olds find out more about trainee and apprenticeship routes into the creative industries.

Thomas’s apprenticeship is structured around four three-month placements that offer apprentices the chance to explore different sides of broadcasting at a time of fast-paced change throughout the industry.

Thomas’s placements have enabled him to learn his way round digital 24/7 operations, production services, engineering operations and IT coordination at BBC studios.

Thomas said:

On placement, one of the memories that really stands out to me is being offered the chance to work with The One Show – it was amazing to see behind the scenes, what goes on and who does what.”

The placements have not only broadened Thomas’s horizons, they have also taken him in an unexpected direction.

Thomas explains:

I’m hoping to return to digital 24/7 operations, the team that works behind the scenes to keep the BBC’s online services up and running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

It’s actually part of the industry that I’d never considered working for before, which is another great reason to do an apprenticeship – and also it’s as much about knowing what you don’t want to do as well.”

A fifth placement is conducted as a major project to complete as the apprentice’s dissertation in order to fulfil the degree’s requirements (everyone who successfully completes the programme gains a BEng Degree in Broadcast and Communication Engineering).

Thomas said:

I’m currently completing my project within digital 24/7 operations and a vacancy has just opened. I’ve just submitted my application to be part of the team and as I’ve already worked with them as a placement, I have a good understanding of the role they play.”

Thomas would encourage more young people to look at apprenticeships – and join a union.

I would strongly recommend people look into apprenticeships and to try and find one which is right for you.”

If you know what industry you’re interested in – great! But most people don’t, so take a step back, think about what skills you’re good at and what interests you have.”

Thomas also recommends signing up to BECTU’s student register.

It’s free to join and they send out a lot of useful information to you, keeping you updated on the industry changes, training opportunities, career fairs and networking events – everything to help support you to get started in the industry!”

This story first appeared in the Summer 2019 Learning Rep – click for more for the full e-magazine.