Northern Ireland

BBC Digital Journalist Apprentice Scheme in Belfast looking for applicants

Tara Mills
Image caption BBC Newsline presenter and journalist Tara Mills says she thinks the new scheme is a great idea

Budding journalists in Northern Ireland are being invited to grab the opportunity of world-class training from the BBC through a new apprentice scheme.

The Digital Journalist Apprentice Scheme is open to non-graduates over 18, who can work in the UK.

They will need at least five GCSEs including Maths and English at grades A to C.

Sessions about the scheme will be held at the BBC in Belfast on Thursday.

They will take place at Blackstaff House at 15:30 GMT and 17:30 GMT.

The Digital Journalist Apprenticeship will run for 18 months from this September and provide successful applicants with a full NCTJ Level Four qualification as well as placements on leading news programmes in television, radio and online/social media.

In Northern Ireland, this will mean the chance for someone to work on the likes of BBC Newsline, Good Morning Ulster and Evening Extra, as well as our BBC NI News Online service. The training will be overseen by the BBC Academy, with an annual allowance of £11,500 provided.

The deadline for the scheme is 13 April.

BBC Newsline presenter and journalist Tara Mills, will be hosting the event in Belfast on Thursday and said she wished a similar apprenticeship had been available when she was starting out in journalism.

She began her full-time career at the Bangor Spectator newspaper after studying politics at the University of Ulster, and stressed the importance of practical experience as preparation for a career in media.

Image caption Carole Foster said the scheme opened the doors to people who might not have gone to university but are bright and creative

"I think the scheme is a great idea, I think in journalism, life experience tends to be as beneficial as a university education, I think it is very much about passion for the story," she said.

"When I got the job at the Bangor Spectator, there was a lot of competition and the fact that I had done freelance work at the Irish News and Citybeat was a big help.

"It wasn't my degree that got me that job, it was my experience, I later worked for Radio Clyde and then got into the BBC.

"Working at the BBC, what a gift to be given a chance to train at that level, once in, the world is your oyster."

Carole Foster, senior programme co-ordinator for the BBC Digital Journalist Apprenticeship scheme, explained the thinking behind it.

"We are opening the doors to people who might not have gone to university but they are bright and creative," she said. They know how social media works and how we will change the way we look at news in the future.

"News is changing and we don't wait for bulletins any longer, most people get their news from their phones.

"The BBC has done a lot of work on how we develop access, particularly for our younger audience.

"What we are looking for is someone who lives and breathes new media."

Image caption David Lynas, News co-ordinator at BBC Northern Ireland, says nothing can replace hands-on training

David Lynas, News co-ordinator at BBC Northern Ireland, started his career in journalism as an 18-year-old with the Armagh Guardian newspaper in 1969, without any formal qualifications.

He has been with the BBC for more than 30 years and feels the training and contacts he gained "on-the-job" in local newspapers provided a firm foundation for his future career.


The former Londonderry Sentinel deputy editor said it was crucial that news broadcasting organisations recruited people from the school of life.

"This job should be open to everyone and the broadcasting organisations need to reopen a way of attracting people who have not been to university or a college," he added

"Someone who doesn't have a degree is just as competent as anyone else.

"Nothing can replace hands-on training, day and daily you are in contact with human beings and telling their story.

"You cannot replace that experience, there is no substitute for the real thing."

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