RTS helping students take the next step into a career in television
FIVE years ago Belfast Metropolitan College's high tech e3 building was the venue for the inaugural Royal Television Society (RTS) Northern Ireland Student Awards.
It was with trepidation that we awaited the arrival of then Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry along with key figures from the local television sector. We weren't quite sure how the event would go or even how many people would turn up. Thankfully the 70 people who attended had a great evening.
Fast forward five years, and when UTV's Judith Hill stepped up to the microphone to present this year's awards, it was standing room only in the Black Box, now the regular home for the celebration of everything that is good about education and creativity in Northern Ireland.
The RTS NI Student Awards bring students face to face with key industry figures who offer advice on the 'next step' towards fulfilling their ambition to begin a successful career in the television industry. I'm enormously proud of the success of the RTS NI Student Awards and I believe it is essential that colleges work in partnership with employers to develop industry ready graduates.
At Belfast Metropolitan College our media and journalism lecturers have many years of experience in television, both at local and national level, radio, print and gaming. This is used to enrich the experience of our students who take a wide range of Extended Diploma, Higher National Diploma and Foundation Degree qualifications in media and journalism, visual effects and animation and gaming courses.
When you take into account the degree and post-graduate courses run in film, television and the creative industries crafts in the Ulster University's various campuses, Queen's University and the other regional colleges in Northern Ireland, there are currently in excess of 200 students preparing to enter this growing sector.
The RTS NI Student Television Awards are the most respected and sought after educational media awards in Northern Ireland. The standard of entries gets higher every year highlighting the exceptional talent emerging from our third level colleges.
Each term I host an 'in conversation' event in Belfast Met's TV studio in e3. Previous guests have included BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan, former UTV managing director Michael Wilson and BBC producer Jacqui Berkerley, who spoke about her network series Wanted Down Under.
Our most recent guest was RTS NI committee member Terry Brennan, the new head of news and programmes at UTV. He spoke about the technical qualities and soft skills which employers look for as they appoint staff in the digital age.
The RTS locallyhas a committee of industry professionals who have a wealth of experience to share with those setting out on their career journey from Kieran Doherty, chair of RTS NI and managing director of Stellify Media, to lecturers like myself and up and coming stars like Sarah McCaffrey, who is working on Game of Thrones, and Sara Gunn Smith, who is part of the Film Hub, who all happen to be graduates of BIFHE/Belfast Met.
There has never been a better time to be embark on a career in the creative industries in Northern Ireland. For more information check out www.rts.org.uk
:: Aidan Browne is a senior lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College and a freelance newsreader at UTV. He is also a member of the RTS NI committee