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Groundbreaking Live Events Rigging Apprenticeship to be created

The NEC Group, together with eleven other leading industry employers, have been selected by the Government Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to create the first ever apprenticeship in Live Events Rigging.

Supported by industry experts and the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), the Trailblazer initiative will provide young people with a structured and measured pathway for those deciding on a career in rigging.

The NEC Group, who use riggers across a number of their venues including the Barclaycard Arena, Genting Arena, the ICC and the NEC, will help lead the way with the new initiative and also provide support for other smaller companies to do the same.

Rigging in the events industry services concerts, theatre, film, television and corporate presentation, not to mention sport and exhibitions. There are currently only 600 qualified Event Riggers in England and the demand for this specific skill set can outweigh the supply. Trailblazers will help develop a core of dedicated, highly skilled working individuals.

The Trailblazers apprenticeships are tailored to the industry needs and can fill any skills gaps they may have, enabling the employer to write their own standards in order to ensure that the apprenticeship framework matches the needs of the apprentice and reflects the requirements of the role.

Paul Rowlands, Rigging Development Manager for the NEC Group and Chair of this initiative, said:

This is a major step in the rigging profession to be able to offer a structured opportunity for young people to become skilled in the profession whilst working. Although the NEC Group has been central to the development of opportunities for those wishing to take up rigging as a career previously, this is a first for the rigging sector of our industry and it is great that it is being supported by leaders in the field of rigging and leading national employers.

We have a skills gap in the sector with demand for riggers at times of the year often exceeding our ability to supply. This new apprenticeship being recognised on a national scale will help to overcome this as well as offer a chance for young people to work in a highly trained profession.

Robin Elias, Technical Director of Unusual Rigging Ltd, who has pledged his company’s full support, to this initiative, said:

This employer led, Government funded, apprenticeship scheme, dovetails very nicely into the existing National Rigging Certificate framework.

This is another important step, for the Rigging Industry, which will undoubtedly help to promote Best Practice and the Highest Standard of Safety, in the workplace.


 About the Live Event Rigging Apprenticeship

  • The 12 employers who have already committed to the Trailblazer Initiative are The NEC Group, UK Rigging, Unusual Rigging, Production Resource Group UK, Outback Rigging, Blackout, Star Events Group, Rigging Services, Knight Rigging Services, Gallowglass Crew, Affinity Crew and Neon Arena Services.
  • The apprenticeship is also supported by Chris Higgs, Creative and Cultural Skills, Professional Lighting and Sound Association, National Rigging Advisory Group, NEC Group Department and Training and the British Broadcasting Corporation.
  • The apprenticeship in rigging will include studying the disciplines of rigging as specified by the National Rigging Certificate and supported by existing industry training,
  • National Rigging Certificate (Level 2) attained as a minimum outcome
  • More information about the Government Apprenticeship can be found here:


About the NEC Group

The NEC Group is all about bringing Live to Life™. The Group is one of the world’s top venue management companies, operating the NEC, the ICC, the Genting Arena and the Barclaycard Arena. In addition, it also operates a national ticketing agency, The Ticket Factory; hospitality brand, amplify; and award-winning caterer, Amadeus. Furthermore, the Group has launched two businesses that aim to take its expertise further afield; NEC Group International and MemoryHaus. Using its expertise in marketing, the Group has launched Eight Feet Tall, a specialist agency for the live events industry.

Every year, around 4 million people come together at the NEC Group’s venues to learn, do business and be entertained. This all happens at over 700 events, ranging from some of the UK’s best-loved shows, the greatest live entertainment, and the most high profile business events.

Employing around 940 people on a permanent basis, with a further 700+ casual workers, the NEC Group delivers GBP£2bn annual impact to the regional economy and supports the full-time equivalent of 29,000 jobs. This is proof alone that the Group really does sit at the heart of the region, as well as operating internationally.

Drawing on over 35 years’ experience in the exhibition, meetings, and live events industries, the NEC Group has exported its expertise oversees through not only NEC Group International but also its Group Convention Centres business. It currently holds the management contract for The Convention Centre Dublin, Ireland’s first purpose-built convention venue. Added to that, further contracts are in play in Europe and beyond.