University of Salford apprentice wins BBC accolade

Tuesday 16 December 2014
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, presents broadcast engineering apprentice David Hewitt with his BBC Technology Apprentice of the Year 2014 award

A student has been awarded the BBC Technology Apprentice of the Year award and, thanks to taking part in an innovative apprenticeship partnership with the broadcaster, is promised a bright career in the broadcast industry.

David Hewitt is in his second year of a BBC apprenticeship scheme for broadcast engineers, taught in conjunction with the University of Salford, University of Birmingham and the BBC Academy. It offers the chance to study for a degree in broadcast engineering combined with taking part in two three-month work placements each year with the BBC or other broadcasters.

David, who was one of 11 apprentices at the University of Salford who were up for the accolade, has also received a Celebrating Success Award from BBC Sport for which he received tickets to next year’s Men’s Singles final at Wimbledon.

David, 22, said: “The apprenticeship is great. It has lots of variety to keep me interested. You certainly have to have a strong passion for technology in general because a lot of our work is computer based. You also have to be very self-motivated and self-sufficient.”

Huw Davies, Technology Programme Manager for BBC Academy, said: “David has demonstrated a high level of diligence, drive, leadership and passion. He was singled out from 37 current Apprentices for the award. He has had fantastic academic results during his first year and the BBC is fully supporting him to work towards achieving a first class degree. He is an ambassador for the scheme and continually supports his peers through sharing his knowledge and strengths. Earlier this year David also won the first prize in this year’s Cisco NetRiders UK competition, winning an iPad, and he is hoping to now enter the international competition next year to win a study trip to California.

“However, David is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the next five years, the BBC Technology apprenticeship will deliver some 58 new broadcast engineers/technologists into the UK media industry supporting broadcasters like BBC, ITV, C4, Turner Broadcasting and many more facilities and providers. Without these talented young people the industry will be unable to evolve and cope with the advances in broadcast production technologies.

“The scheme is now accredited by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and staff, like David, continually work towards achieving and maintaining professional industry recognition awarded by the Engineering Council.”

As part of the three year Level 6 Higher Apprenticeship programme BBC Apprentices complete work placements with the BBC and other media companies, while studying towards a degree in Broadcast Engineering. This puts them in a great position to compete for jobs in the creative media industry once they have graduated.

The BBC Academy carries out all the recruitment to the programme and has worked in partnership with the universities, ITV, Channel 4, Red Bee Media, BT, IABM and Arqiva, to design the programme. Once qualified, participants will have all the skills and knowledge to be highly employable across the broadcasting industry.

The degree, which is awarded jointly by the University of Salford and the University of Birmingham, includes tailored courses in:

  • Computer networks, networking and IP distribution
  • Electrics, electronics, power and transmission
  • Software programming, computer graphics and databases
  • Audio and video signals and systems, processing and encoding

Kathryn Booth, Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer at the School of Computing, Science and Engineering at the University of Salford, said: “The success of this course shows the importance of apprenticeships as a different route into study and employment: they really are tremendously worthwhile. It’s a fabulous opportunity to get a degree with all the work-based placements as part of it but it hard work and takes a lot of commitment. The apprentices experience different aspects of the business so also get an opportunity to see which sector they would want to go in when they finish.

“Therefore the apprentices leave with an ability to hit the ground running and, as the BBC is next door to our MediaCityUK site, there will be opportunities. This is an area where there’s a skills shortage of qualified people.”

Participants don’t need to have any work experience but need at least 280 UCAs points. Successful candidates will normally have studied maths and another science at A level (or equivalent), however candidates with a BTEC in a relevant subject or with good A levels and relevant experience may also be considered.

To find out more about the BBC Technology Apprentice programme click here

The University of Salford of also runs a number of journalism and broadcasting degrees from its new base at MediaCityUK. For further information on the available courses please click here.