Education & Skills

The theatre industry is currently facing skills shortages and gaps in technical, operational and production teams, including front of house, lighting, sound, rigging, automation, costume, wigs, hair and make-up.

Research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre indicates that that 73% of those employed in creative occupations have a degree or higher-level qualification (compared with 44% across the UK workforce).

However, degree-level qualifications are not required for many of highly skilled theatre roles which are currently in shortage so technical qualifications such as apprenticeships represent a sensible work-based route into the industry for young people and older workers looking to reskill.

We broadly welcome the UK government’s Advanced British Standard (ABS) proposals announced in October 2023, which aim to introduce parity of esteem between technical and academic qualifications. However we have used the consultation to highlight the fact that these proposals would only be effective within the context of a broad and balanced curriculum prioritising both arts and STEM subjects, strengthened teaching capacity and good creative industries specific careers advice. Read our response to the ABS consultation.

Skills Research Brief

SOLT & UK Theatre, with support from the Gatsby Foundation are commissioning a research project to understand Skills Gaps within the Theatre Industry. Bids should be emailed to by 10AM, Monday 8 July 2024.

Download the full brief for more information.

Technical Qualifications

Technical qualifications are not widely used in our industry. The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) & UK Theatre’s 2017 Workforce Review found that only 37% of theatre employers surveyed offer apprenticeships.

We are therefore working with government and our members to improve awareness of qualifications and courses including T-levels, apprenticeships and skills bootcamps that have the potential to meet the sector’s workforce needs. Learn more by watching this T-Levels webinar.

To support our members efforts to tackle the theatre industry’s skills shortages we call on the government to:

  • Introduce a flexible skills levy.
  • Reinstate the employer incentive to enable larger organisations to employ apprenticeship coordinators and scale-up their apprenticeship intake.
  • Widen the availability of Level 2 apprenticeships.
  • Improve public and employer awareness of apprenticeships.

Read our briefing on apprenticeships.

Portable Apprenticeship Pilot

Some of the UK’s leading theatre organisations are currently working with the Department for Education (DfE) to pilot a portable flexi-job apprenticeship which enables apprentices to complete a series of short-term contracts with a group of employers, rather than being tied to one.

SOLT & UK Theatre looks forward to the DfE’s evaluation of this approach and exploring its long-term viability.

Theatre for Every Child

The theatre industry’s skills shortages have their routes in the education system, which leaves many uninformed about the career opportunities within the theatre sector. This is one of the reasons we have launched our Theatre for Every Child Campaign, to ensure that all children are introduced to the joy of theatre as well as made aware of the exciting career opportunities on offer in the theatre industry. The campaign calls for:

  • A funded government commitment to ensure that every child has the opportunity to experience a professional theatre visit before they leave secondary school.
  • An arts rich curriculum for every child.
Cultural Education Plan

SOLT & UK Theatre welcome the government’s plans to introduce a cultural education plan, which the Cultural Learning Alliance has been calling for since 2014. To help realise such a plan, we ask that the government honour its pledge to invest £240 million in an arts premium for secondary schools.

Join our network of theatre professionals