FORTH Valley College launched Scotland’s first Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in Digital Journalism developed by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) today (Thursday 22 May).
Senior representatives from across Scotland’s media industry attended an event at the college’s Stirling Campus where the innovative Creative Industries Department will offer the first batch of MAs the essential theory and practical skills training they will need as they develop in the workplace.
The Digital Journalism programme was developed by the NUJ working with the Sector Skills Council, Creative Skillset and was facilitated by Skills Development Scotland.
It is anticipated that in 2014-15 the Scottish industry will recruit, support, and employ between 30-50 digital journalism modern apprenticeships at Level 3 across Newsquest, Johnston Press, Scottish Provincial Press, BBC, STV and Romanes Media Group.
Martin Boyle, head of Forth Valley College’s Creative Industries Department, said: “The Modern Apprenticeship is all about creating tomorrow’s media practitioners today.
“The industry has always been about embracing change at a remarkable pace, and the course will provide a solid grounding to prepare a new wave of talented media apprentices to flourish whatever the platform.
“The college aspires to make learning work, and there can be no better example than an innovative new course which supports apprentices in developing skills while taking their first steps in some of Scotland’s most important media organisations.
“There couldn’t be a more exciting, or challenging, time to start working in the sector, and we look forward to working towards the promotion of outstanding standards and outstanding apprentices.”
Paul Holleran, Scottish Organiser of the National Union of Journalists, said: “The NUJ has daily contact with media employees and employers across Scotland and have developed a unique understanding of the problems facing the industry.
“This is the reason why the union built a training project which has been a success straight from its inception over ten years ago.
“Over the last five years, in particular, we have come to recognise that the industry must raise its game and must assess, adapt and evolve.
“We have pursued a constructive route to adapt and evolve. The Modern Apprenticeship in Digital Journalism is a prime example of the union’s pragmatic approach to journalism training to provide highly skilled journalists for the evolving newsroom.
“The news industry is not dying, but it is changing. We are doing our bit to help the industry adapt and adopt new ways to deliver the news. The Modern Apprenticeship in Digital Journalism will produce journalists skilled to meet the needs of print and digital journalism with an ability to switch between multiple platforms, providing news via print, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and PCs by the use of a variety of social media, new media and traditional platforms.
“The Digital Journalism apprenticeships also provide an essential network for the industry to come together in partnership and for the NUJ to connect with the colleges and the employers involved.
“We believe this project will provide a framework to raise standards in digital journalism and enable our media to compete at a higher level.
“This programme confirms the NUJ’s commitment to developing a new practical approach to journalism training, to the creation of new jobs and a better media.
“By injecting new blood into the newsrooms with a wide range of flexible skills, this allows employers to relieve pressure on existing staff, improve on quality, and extend their reach to a new, wider and more diverse audience capturing a whole new market.
“We also believe there is a requirement for a similar project to re-train existing staff in the skills included in this MA.”
David Martin, SDS’s key sector manager for Creative Industries, added: “SDS organises Scottish Apprenticeship Week to celebrate the benefits that apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy and it is pleasing to welcome the very first Modern Apprentices in Digital Journalism in Scotland.
“This is a UK first and testament to the innovation and drive of the National Union of Journalists Scotland, bringing Scottish industry and further education together to deliver the highest quality entry route to working in the dynamic area of 21st century press, broadcast and online journalism.
“SDS is proud to be working with all partners to establish the first “earn and learn” Modern Apprenticeship for journalism in the digital age. We look forward to following the development and expansion of the MAs over the year ahead.”
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, who recently pledged an extra £25,000 to support the scheme, said: “There couldn’t be a more exciting time to be a journalist and there couldn’t be a more important time to encourage young people to consider a career in journalism. However, we are starting to see a worldwide shift.
“We must adapt to technological change and find new business models. Schemes such as the NUJ Scotland Digital Journalism project are integral to this. I’m delighted to announce that this project will be supported across the industry so everyone can benefit from highly talented professionals entering journalism.”
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