Over the weekend the second VFX and Animation Summit took place in Dublin, with industry talent from Ireland and across the world descending on the capital. As part of the weekend Animation Skillnet, Screen Training Ireland, and the Irish Film Board announced a brand new apprenticeship programme.

Talking to Screen Daily, Gareth Lee, manager at Animation Skillnet, said that the scheme was the “first programme of its kind in Ireland,” and that this scheme, that will offer 10 places for apprentices to work at different studios in Ireland, will be predominately for “recent graduates looking for their first break into the industry.”

Some of the studios and creative companies being lined up for the apprentice scheme include Brown Bag, Windmill Lane, Screen Scene and Giant Animation.

According to Lee the scheme will be “predominantly based in Ireland but we are also exploring the possibilities that some of them will spend time abroad.”

It is planned that formulised training will be supplied alongside the apprenticeships, with Lee stating “On-the-job training and mentoring and offsite specialized training, we’ve found that combination works really well. For the next few months we’ll be nailing down what studios are involved and what the curriculum will be.”

He continued: “The biggest complaint we hear from studios is about graduates not having the studio experience. But those pipelines can’t be replicated in university. Apprenticeships help develop professional skills like working in a team and time management.”

Sorcha Loughnane, Training Executive at Screen Training Ireland added, “a lot of studios have very specific skills needs… It’s great that here in Ireland the studios are very engaged with training. That sets Ireland apart, the studios here see skills development as really critical.”

Ireland has a strong history of producing world-class talent in the arts and film in particular, with 2014 seeing one of the busiest production years for indigenous films in many years. This history, coupled with ongoing success in producing talented and successful engineers, software developers and computer game professionals, creates a pool of talent that can contribute so much to the homegrown VFX and the wider film industry. Despite this however, at this present time there are still comparatively low numbers of Irish professionals practicing within this industry. The aim of the VFX & Animation Summit, and of this new apprenticeship scheme is to change this.

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