Becky Humphries
21 July 2016 16:47


Rigging industry experts from across the UK joined forces at Birmingham’s’ Barclaycard Arena to trial the Trailblazer Live Event Rigging Apprenticeship assessment, 29th June 2016.

The Live Event Rigging Apprenticeship, part of the governments’ Trailblazer scheme encouraging three million new apprentices by 2020, has been developed by the National Rigging Advisory Group (NRAG) to provide formal training to new recruits, supporting them beyond the National Rigging Certificate Level 2, and plug the gap in trainee numbers to fill increasing demand throughout the rigging industry.

Key rigging leaders from Blackout, UK Rigging, RTM Rigging, PSI Production Ireland and NEC Group attended the trial run of the newly-created Live Event Rigging Apprenticeship, to scrupulously test the assessment format and marking system before it is formally launched to the industry in September.

Six trainee volunteer riggers from Blackout and NEC Group undertook a test rigging installation, whilst being observed by assessors RTM Riggings’ Mark Armstrong, UK Riggings’ Harry Box, PSI Production Irelands’ Sean Pagel and rigging consultant Eric Porter. The assessors marked the trainees against six practical units covering general health & safety, work methods, rigging skills and techniques, working at height, team work and communication, and behaviours.

Volunteer rigger trialling the assessment

Volunteer rigger trialling the assessment

Blackout’s HR manager Adelaide Johannsen comments: “It is testament to the hard work and commitment to the rigging industry of the NRAG members that we have successfully developed the Trailblazer Live Event Rigging apprenticeship to this point. Following the trial run in which key experts and trainees kindly gave up their time to feed back on the syllabus content, we are now in the position to ensure the course is perfected to the highest of standards for the enrolling pupils.”

Paul Rowlands, Rigging Development Manager for the NEC Group and chair of the initiative, added:

“The day provided us with some very insightful feedback that can be used when modifying the final assessment product.  By involving both current trainees and an expert assessment team, we hope to provide a well-rounded and thorough apprenticeship, which stands apprentices in good stead for a career in rigging. 

“This is a big move for the industry, so ensuring the right assessment methods are implemented is paramount to its success.”

Paul Bates, Business Skills Advisor at Solihull College & University Centre adds: “Having been approached by the NEC Group, it has been an exciting process to actively help develop this programme from initial talks and ideas on paper, through to supporting employers and managing the set-up of the residential courses and e-platforms aiding student learning. It has been a pleasure collaboratively working with multiple rigging partners, all coming together with the collective aim of improving apprentice riggers’ skill sets and in turn raising the professional standards of the events industry as a whole.”

Harry Box, a Trailblazer assessor from UK Rigging explained: “Currently there aren’t enough riggers to meet industry requirements so this apprenticeship gives employers a pathway to service this demand. It is possibly not a career that many school leavers feel they could consider so this is a fantastic way of getting fresh talent into the industry; training individuals to the high standards required in health & safety, life skills and specific rigging skills. I think the assessment went really well, proving useful for both assessors and trainees who kindly gave up their time to help us push this innovative industry development forward.”

Lucy Gardner, NEC Group’s trainee rigger explained why she was keen to be involved with the assessment trial: “It’s becoming less about brawn and more about brains, and I think many school leavers would enjoy the mix of theory and practical work that comes with a career in rigging.  This apprenticeship will provide a foot in the door for many future riggers so it’s great to be part of such an initiative.  I’m looking forward to seeing the final product and hopefully mentoring apprentices myself in the future!” 

Blackout and other members of the NRAG are now recruiting for applicants for the Live Event Rigger Apprenticeship, in partnership with Solihull College. If you are interested in finding more about the programme or syllabus please email