Gearhouse training in Live Event Technical Production

Seldom will you find an opportunity that is so geared towards the Technical Supply industry, so involved with what is happening on the events scene right now and such a fun way of learning that you simply have to sign on, if Technical Production is your passion.

An annual internship is run in each of the Gearhouse Group’s Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban branches. This is an 11 month course aimed at equipping industry entrants with a solid foundation across all disciplines, to the standard required for first-class service. Individuals showing great potential in the first year also stand the chance of being selected to study a second year and specialise further in one discipline. 

The Academy has been in operation for 8 years now and has recently been renamed in honour of late Gearhouse Director, Kentse Mpahlwa. According to Joint Managing Director, Ofer Lapid it was a particularly appropriate tribute. “We wanted to create a permanent reminder within Gearhouse of his contribution to the Live Events Industry and his passion for the education and upliftment of underprivileged youth in South Africa. Going forward, therefore, our Training School will be known as The Kentse Mpahlwa Gearhouse Academy. In this way, we hope to ensure that his vision is remembered and his aims furthered in the Live Events Industry.”

Adopting a proactive training policy, the Gearhouse Group is more than aware of the importance of highly trained staff, regarding them as Gearhouse’s ‘best asset’. “We need to make sure that they are equipped to provide creative solutions as well as utilise the equipment to their best advantage,” says Joint Managing Director, Ofer Lapid. 

The company encourages open lines of communication and most technicians have been exposed to the international way of working through direct training, skills transfer on international tours to South Africa or by working abroad alongside international crews. 

Lapid also recognises that the attractive prospect of working at some of the country’s most anticipated events helps to draw in skilled individuals. “Our staff has the opportunity to work with world-class equipment and on the country's top events (like the 2010 FIFA World Cup). This attracts a very high level of technician and we have many of the country's experts in their fields working with us, but we are very concerned about the lack of specific technical training for inexperienced industry aspirants.”

The first industry accredited Learnership was created by Gearhouse in association with MAPPP SETA in 2006, incorporating the expertise of the in-house staff in the generation of the course material and onsite training. This has evolved into a one year full-time in-house programme that enables learners to major in six fields, each of which has both Theory and Practical components: 

  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Audio-Visual
  • Rigging
  • Structures
  • Power

Full event technical production involves all of these disciplines and through this programme, learners gain a good foundation in all fields. 

Training is given by the highly-skilled employees of Gearhouse SA and a Workshop Rotation component ensures hands-on experience on a practical level across the board. How far the students progress is entirely up to them and the amount of effort they put into it. 

The programme is ‘learner centred’ in the sense that learners complete the programme at their own pace – with the proviso that all modules need to be complete by the end of the year. Graduates receive a Certificate in Live Event Technical Production that is recognised throughout the industry.

The Internship program runs from 8 am to 5 pm daily (Monday to Friday) from the beginning of February to the end of December. Learners become part of the Gearhouse staff body, earning a weekly stipend as well as overtime when they are sent out on events. They are also provided with all the necessary training material, safety boots, hardhat, gloves etc. to complete their tasks safely.

Two months are spent in the Training Centre and the following six months in workshop rotation, focusing on a subject per month. After that learners spend the remaining time specialising in their field of choice. holidays, this is the not-so-glamorous side of eventing!

Assessment is continuous and runs throughout the year. A final exam is set for end November, part of which requires the group to work as a team to set-up and run a full stage for group assessment.

Applicants must have Matric with Maths and Science. With the free-of-charge course drawing interest from over 300 applicants, a thorough screening process determines who the 45 successful applicants will be each year.

The training methodology used is ‘Criterion Based Modular Training’ (CBMT) a well-recognised ‘Learner Centred’ training approach developed for Apprenticeship Training. The system encourages the learner to manage their own learning. The training methodology also ensures that the learner attains a 100% pass mark for all Criterion Tests before being allowed to move on to the next level. 

The knowledge and skills being assessed are those that Gearhouse believes MUST be mastered in order to qualify. With a core safety element embedded in every module, the Internship goes a long way to entrenching the Gearhouse ethos of “safety first”. Without these fundamentals, no-one is allowed to operate as part of the technical team.

Story Gearhouse SA, photo Kaelo Engage

Mar 19, 2013

The Gearhouse Group of Companies