‘Stage Set’ for Employability Skills

Schools Benefit from Belfast Harbour / Lyric Theatre Initiative

Belfast Harbour has supported 14 local secondary schools through the Lyric’s inaugural Schools Affiliation Scheme. The programme focussed on developing employability skills with the aid of professional drama techniques.

Delivered by the Lyric Theatre’s Creative Learning department, the innovative scheme used a mix of voice coaches and drama workshops to help pupils improve their confidence and communication skills.

Pupils were offered behind-the-scenes tours of the theatre, skills workshops and careers advice on job opportunities within theatre and the creative industries as well as practical advice on presentation skills and public speaking, and team-based, problem solving challenges to help foster creative thinking.  Teachers were also provided with professional development opportunities.

Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour’s Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager, said:

“Belfast Harbour has a long tradition of providing support to the creative industries, particularly for initiatives that harness the creative power of the arts to enhance community life and develop skills.

“As any job seeker will testify to, the competition for high quality jobs has never been more intense.  Having the right qualifications and experience, however, are only part of what employers are looking for.  More than ever, candidates need to convey to potential employers that they are confident and assured and excellent communicators. 

“These are skills which can be learned and the expertise to do so already exists within the arts sector.  This programme teaches pupils the same techniques that have helped professional actors overcome stage fright and apply them in the equally daunting setting of a job interview.”

Erin Hoey, Schools’ Coordinator at the Lyric Theatre, added:

“Voice warm up exercises and Shakespearean script readings are just some of the methods we used to help pupils prepare for interviews and the world of work.

“In addition, the Schools Affiliation Scheme also highlighted the diverse range of career opportunities available in theatre and the creative industries.  Actors are only one element of performance and they rely upon an extensive team of costume and set designers, lighting experts and stage technicians.

“Opportunities and interest in the sector has never been stronger, particularly given the success of the Belfast Harbour Film Studios and Titanic Studios which are driving demand for local talent.”

Feedback from the schools highlighted how the programme was beneficial for both teachers and students. Over the course of the year staff learned about different performance techniques and availed workshops hosted by industry professionals on sound, lighting and sets.