Manchester International Festival launches training academy for unemployed young people

  • In 2018 the Manchester International Festival launched the Factory Academy
  • This year the Factory Futures is utilising online learning
  • NQ reporter Jess Stoddard spoke to the Factory Academy about plans for this year in the lockdown

In 2018 the Manchester International Festival (MIF) launched the Factory Academy for unemployed adults aged 19-24 to train to work in the creative industry.

Jocelyne Underwood, Factory skills and training director, said: “Never has it been more important that we are investing in the talent of tomorrow.”

The vision for the Factory Academy is to train the workforce of the future

“There’s stuff every day on the news about youth unemployment and what’s going to happen to this generation of people. So that’s why we’ve put so much into this training academy so that in itself, it will be a fantastic experience for those people.”

The programme aims to diversify the workforce in the arts, which is worth more than £100bn annually to the economy.

The Factory encourages people from all backgrounds to get involved and develop transferable skills that can prepare them in the workplace. 

“We aim to diversify the creative industry workforce. It’s not about creating churn. It’s about linking in with as many employers as possible.”

Students take part in a 12-day training program and learn about different areas of the industry, including press, finance, marketing, production and producing.

Over the next five years, the academy will see 1,400 young people take part in a range of pre-employment training programmes including training academies, work experience programmes, traineeships and paid internships.

However, this year looks a little different, with all students learning online.

“They’re all on Microsoft Teams, they are communicating via chat. We’ve got masterclasses and teaching going on in virtual classrooms,” said Jocelyne.

Aimed at young adults without a degree and currently unemployed, the academy aims to be as accessible as possible.

Jocelyne said: “In lots of ways, it makes it more accessible because we don’t have to worry about getting people from A to B. There’s a whole host of opportunities we can explore around virtual learning.”

Previous students have gone onto to complete work placements at The Lowry Theatre, HOME and the Royal Exchange.

Chérie Bosama, a graduate development trainee at Factory Acamedy, said: “It’s actually been life-changing. I just wanted something different and wanted to challenge myself.

“I felt that this was a perfect time for me to challenge myself.”

The arts have really struggled through the pandemic, with many creatives having to leave the industry.

“What we really need to do is ensure that we’ve got people that stick within the sector and get into leadership positions,” explained Jocelyne.

“And that’s where we really need to be driving the work that we do.

So the vision for the factory is not just about entry-level. It’s getting people to stick, and that’s where we will start to achieve that outcome of diversifying the workplace.”