EXCLUSIVE: The Irish animation and VFX industries are getting a new apprenticeship programme, backed by Animation Skillnet, Screen Training Ireland and the Irish Film Board.

Gareth Lee, manager at Animation Skillnet, told Screen at this weekend’s VFX Summit in Dublin that the scheme was the “first programme of its kind in Ireland.”

The pilot edition for 2015, which will open for applications in the new year, will offer 10 places for apprentices to work at different studios in Ireland. The trainees are likely to be “recent graduates looking for their first break into the industry,” he said.

Companies that have shown interest in having apprentices include Brown Bag, Windmill Lane, Screen Scene and Giant Animation.

“It is predominantly based in Ireland but we are also exploring the possibilities that some of them will spend time abroad,” Lee said.

Teresa McGrane, deputy CEO of the Irish Film Board, also noted that “formalized training modules would run alongside the apprenticeships.”

Lee said: “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 (the training body backed by the Irish Film Board) 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.”