29 June 2023
The first person to finish a new music production apprenticeship recorded top marks, after collaborating with up and coming BBC Introducing artist Maariyah Khan.
Harjan Singh Dhanjal, 21, whose stage name is DJ CZR, was the first to complete the new Assistant Recording Technician Apprenticeship, achieving a double distinction for his end point assessment.
This apprenticeship is level 4 – which means it sits between level 3 (GCSE equivalent) and level 6 and 7 (degree equivalent – and takes around two years to complete. As with all apprenticeships, it involves earning a wage, learning on the job, and at least six hours a week away from the studio studying the more technical aspects of the trade with a training provider.
DJ CZR was taken on as the assistant sound engineer for the newly launched Laid Back Recording Studios, in Derby, through an apprenticeship, after completing an introductory music production college course with Confetti Nottingham. He wanted to be employed with a steady income, as he honed his recording and mixing skills, so chose the apprenticeship route. He did his technical training with Blue Lion Training Academy.
As well as recording local rap, grime, and hip-hop artists, he collaborated with up and coming BBC Introducing artist Maariyah Khan whom he recorded as part of his end point assessment portfolio.
“An apprenticeship worked for me because I really enjoyed the practical side – working hands-on in the studio, setting up sessions and doing the recording, massively boosted my confidence. It was really good to learn the technical side of recording and also see how other producers managed and worked with the different characters who came in to record. It made me feel much more confident about organising my own sessions.
“Maariyah had just come off a tour when we worked together. She really liked the beats I’d made and we recorded three songs. I chose one that I thought was the strongest for my apprenticeship EPA, called Pablo, and that got top marks. The song is now going to be released by a record label too which is exciting.”
The apprenticeship was designed by music industry experts with support from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), which legendary music producer Sir Robin Millar is a prominent board member for.
Passionate equity, diversity and inclusion advocate Sir Robin, who has recorded 44 number 1 hits, generating over £400 million of sales worldwide, including smash hit Sade album ‘Diamond Life’ and singles ‘Smooth Operator’ and ‘Your Love is King’, said:
“Following the closure of hundreds of professional recording studios in the 1990s there was a danger that a whole generation would miss out on the proper on-the-job training that I had myself and that I continued in my own studios.
“This apprenticeship has given a real chance for young people passionate about music to learn the real skills needed to make great recordings. A new era of professional project studios are there to provide this training along with classroom-based learning.”
Other apprenticeships for the creative and music industries train Live Event Rigger, Live Event Technicians, and Costume Performance Technician, who work on lights, sound, audio-visual, costumes, and wider support for live performances.
Chris Tams, BPI (British Phonographic Industry) director, Independent Member Services, said:
“We talk about the talent pipeline into the music industry, but the reality is that there are many points of entry and increasingly apprenticeships play a vital role in ensuring that diverse people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to find their way into the business, develop their skills and knowledge base and realise their creative potential.
“Our label members all have their own successful programmes, while the BPI’s own BRITs Apprentice Scheme, launched with BRIT Trust funding, has pointed to the benefits of such an organic approach, with all the apprentices over the three cohorts who saw through the 15-month apprenticeship being offered a permanent or extended role with either their host company or another organisation and, with it, the opportunity to develop a sustainable career working in music.”
UK Music’s director of education and skills, Dr Oliver Morris said:
“We are ecstatic to hear about the success of the first Assistant Recording Technician Apprentice Harjan’s progression through the apprenticeship and beyond. Massive congratulations to Harjan and everyone involved in his success!
“Routes into the music industry via apprenticeships, where you can earn whilst you learn, are key to addressing access issues moving forward and we hope that a wide range of employers look to integrate this apprenticeship as a part of their offer.”
Nina Radojewski, chair of UK Music’s Education & Skills Committee and AIM’s head of membership, said:
“Apprenticeships are a great way to enter the music industry for people of all backgrounds and to learn from businesses that release the music we all enjoy and love. UK Music’s work in expanding the current music industry apprenticeship offering is a valuable step in lowering barriers of access to entry. AIM’s own newly launched Amplify Apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Amazon Music and Women in CTRL enables six apprentices to work as Label Assistants at some of the most cutting-edge independent record labels across the country, giving them the opportunity to enter the industry and build a network and a name for themselves.”
A spokesperson for RAK, legendary recording studio and label, said:
"We [RAK] are keen to support alternative routes on the engineering pathway, and these schemes can play an important role. Apprentices get to spend most of their week working alongside professional engineers, producers, and artists, immersing themselves in the art and science of audio production, at the same time as more structured learning with their peers. It is our hope this framework not only equips apprentices with the technical expertise required for a successful career but also fosters creativity, problem-solving abilities, and a deep understanding of the recording process in a supported environment. It opens the door to a wider range of candidates and broadens the field of employers who might be able to take on new entrants to the industry to those outside of major studios."
Cameron Craig, executive director of the Music Producers Guild, said:
“The Assistant Recording Technician apprenticeship will help bring much need to assistance to those facing barriers to a career in the studio. We look forward to building on it to create a system that will help creatives and Studios alike.”
Music industry employers who want to take on an apprentice can find out everything they need to know from the following website: Hire an apprentice (apprenticeships.gov.uk)