• Training

Training with the National College for Creative Industries at South Essex College

Four hundred and five years ago, on this day, we said goodbye to William Shakespeare. He is regarded as leading the English renaissance and creating the dramatic works which now reside in the archives of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre.

In more recent times we have seen thousands of variations on a theme, new interpretations of the Bard’s work and the translation of the dramatic works into film and television masterpieces.

William Shakespeare was a leading light in understanding people and places, in setting scenes and bringing other parts of the world or fictional, fantasy places to the stage.

Back then, staging such fantasy worlds was difficult, but in today’s world of entertainment we have elaborate scenic and special effects, video walls, interactive technologies and much more. And to create these spectacular experiences we need to train dedicated, highly skilled practitioners.

At the National College for Creative Industries at South Essex College you will find the home for vocational training courses for the performing and production arts.

The Backstage Centre invites you to consider what it takes to get into the creative industries and the courses you can study to get you there.

The Backstage Centre works with creative sector clients from the full range of specialisms, including television, theatre, film, music and events. Clients are some of the leading organisations working in the UK and include SKY, BBC, Channel 4, Film London, Matthew Bourne as well as a number of major recording artists including Foals, Rod Stewart, Paul Weller, Kylie Minogue, and many more.

Skills, Knowledge and Understanding?

We live in uncertain times, that much we know. The pandemic has had a major swipe at creative industries.

But what impact does it have for training?

Are we facing an uncertain period for creative education?

Will there be work at the end of it all?

One of the greatest achievements in recent years has been the refining and development of creative education with a range of awarding organisations, and this includes apprenticeship programmes, vocational courses and short course industry passports.

The University of the Arts London has developed a family of training programmes across the creative subjects, which are designed in consultation with industry, as well as academic development teams. The major difference is the creation of developmental training.

Access to ‘live brief’ experiences are designed to foster real-world experience and allow access to industry practitioners, mentors and organisations who are happy to work with people in training.

The National College for Creative Industries at South Essex College recognise that young people interested in a creative industry career need look no further. The Backstage Centre recognise how valuable this supply chain is. With the developments for the regeneration of Purfleet-on-Thames now under way, and the advent of a major TV and Film studio development in the heart of the town, the skills that will be required set a benchmark for meeting the needs.

What does a young person, at 16+, have ahead of them?

Some young people don’t have the achievements from their school years to get them on the programme they ideally want to do. They are usually short on meeting the entry requirements, and as a result look to completing a lower-level programme from which they can progress.

Levels of training:

The UAL Level 1 Award and Diploma in Music, Performing and Production Arts provides opportunities for students to explore, develop and test their creativity while enhancing self-confidence and revealing the potential career demands and opportunities within the sector.

This qualification is designed to appeal to students looking for practical development over a more academic study route. UAL Level 2 Award and Diploma in Music Performance and Production and UAL Level 2 Award and Diploma in Performing and Production Arts are a natural progression route from these qualifications. The qualification aims to enable students to reengage with education and acquire the requisite skills, knowledge and understanding to progress to further education and employment.

TheLevel 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts focus students to holistically gain the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to access and progress to degree level study or employment in the creative sector.

The qualifications push the understanding of their creativity within a qualification structure which is stimulating, demanding and provides a supportive transition from general to more specialised study.

On completing an Extended Diploma, students can progress onto the UAL Level 4 Professional Diploma in Technical & Production Practice for the Creative Industries which has been designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to work in the production arts industry.

The qualification is a one-year fast track into employment and will open up the possibility of further progression with Higher Education. The qualification is suitable for those who have an interest in production, or a related subject, who wish to explore and extend this interest via a full-time, immersive learning experience.

New from September the college is introducing the UAL Level 4 Professional Diploma in Creative Enterprise has been designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to develop their careers as creative professionals.

This qualification will provide students with an opportunity to cultivate their employability by developing their creative enterprise skills, expanding their contact base whilst developing their start-up projects and professional practice.


Whether you are an aspiring performer, an artist, a musician, a film maker or stage manager, there is a programme of study to meet the growing needs of the creative industries.

Individual subject areas are often referred to as Pathways, and the college provides a range of subjects across the creative sector. Many of the students progress on to careers in the industry for which they have trained or continue their training to complete undergraduate programmes with the college, or at other institutions. Here are the courses available by their subject area.

Art & Design:



Performing Arts

You can discover more from the prospectus.

Getting employed

The creative industries are currently evaluating the impact from Covid-19 as they slowly begin to re-open in line with the UK Government’s roadmap out of lock down. The substantial impact for the creative industries during this pandemic is unprecedented.

Theatres and music venues in particular have seen a seismic reduction in live performances. Museums and Galleries have been equally affected, and the Festival sector is facing difficult decisions as the summer draws nearer.

As the buildings re-open and the creative industry recovers, we will need to be ready with trained people to fill the positions that will return, as well as accommodate vacancies from international practitioners who will be unable to return to the UK to work following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Employer groups and industry representatives are leading the field in preparing for a creative industry come back, and the combined efforts from all involved is admirable.

How will getting back to work affect the adult population in our sector, and will they need to upskill?

The Backstage Centre are extremely concerned about the welfare of our freelance community, who make up a substantial number of the pre-covid workforce. Some have left the creative industries to pursue other career choices in order to make ends meet as they have not been entitled to government support. How many will return is yet to be seen, but short-term employment opportunities as a creative may not easily segue into their current work patterns.

Because of this, we are mindful that this may also impact the number of people we will need to train to cover all areas.

Will some people need to retrain?

Quite possibly, or that those most affected by the lack of work during the pandemic have decided they would like to strengthen their chances and add some further training to their toolkit.

The government have introduced from April an entitlement for every adult to be able to achieve a full level 3 programme of study, should they wish to. Referred to as the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, this scheme may provide an opportunity for people to achieve a qualification relevant to their interest, and to be able to improve the chances of achieving a higher pay scale. Please contact us if this is of interest to you?

What are some of the emerging skills we have been made aware of for creative sector workers?

The film and broadcast sector have been able to work during the pandemic since June, subject to appropriate Covid 19 safe working practices put in place. Many workers are trained in Covid-19 awareness and are conversant with the rules when on set and in production.

Some elements of the cinema and theatre sector have been able to work hard at creating appropriate work conditions, and a means for safely allowing audiences back in. From this fine work others will be able to follow.

From this we have witnessed a rise in online training and the creation of new roles, such as Covid-19 Supervisors.

Transferable skills have come into their own for some people. We have knowledge of sound engineers working on online and streamed broadcast for example, or stage managers helping with Covid testing centres.

From our performers and theatre producers we are witnessing content being prepared for live streaming or downloads, popular around Christmas. Actors, singers and musicians, comedians and storytellers finding a new medium, and having to upskill and learn about new technology. Organisations large and small realising this is a means by which they can do some work and keep their skills finely tuned.

The RSC, National Theatre and the Royal Opera House have all provided a version of this, and broadcast events, such as the recent BAFTA awards, has provided an opportunity to showcase the talents of audio-visual designers and engineers to produce strong visual content and scenic dynamics.

The film industry has explored and propelled volumetric production techniques in work such as Disney’s ‘Mandalorian’. The Games industry seeing record sales for the millions at home in lock down, as well as the online streaming platforms eager to secure our monthly subscriptions. These in turn are helping to fund the explosion of content making, and the demand for production spaces such as ours, the Backstage Centre.

If you would like to talk further about the training opportunities we are able to provide, then please send a message, including your contact details, via this link.


The next year fills us with hope and the return to the industries we love. The Backstage Centre wishes all our friends, clients, staff and students the very best for the work we have to complete and the opportunities we can create together.