The BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme – why you should apply

January 28, 2014 — 1 Comment

UPDATE – 10/02/14 – The BBC JTS is now open to applicants who are doing, or have completed, a broadcast journalism qualification. This is a change of heart – scroll to the bottom of this article for more details of the change.


The BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme gets a lot of applicants. So it doesn’t really need any extra publicity.

But…this year a handful of people have said to me in passing “so, do you think that journalism scheme is worth applying for?”, or “do you think that trainee journalism thingy is worth it?”. The majority of these have been people with at least a passing interest in current affairs, and people who are young, talented, and want to work full time in radio.

So I would like to publicly declare that the overwhelming answer is YES.

A lot of the very ‘top’ BBC-types started out as BBC journalism trainees. Among others: Huw Edwards, Jeremy Vine, Nick Robinson and former DG Mark Thompson (although I’m not sure we talk about him at the moment). The list of ‘big names’ is quite huge once you start looking. But perhaps that puts people off – not everyone wants to be the next superstar political correspondent.

If you’re not sure whether to apply, consider a few things:

  • If you want to work in media, and aren’t dead-set on music or entertainment programming then consider applying. If you think that one day at any point in the future you might have an interest in working on any programme on any medium with a factual premise, a background in journalism could be really helpful.
  • Consider the range of programmes that require journalistic training. It’s not just the ‘main’ news programmes. Just within BBC radio, a journalism background helps put you ahead in all of BBC Local Radio. You need it for almost any job at 5 Live. Most Radio 4 programmes require it – that might obvious for Today or PM, but even something like the Food Programme will be made by people with a journalism background. Then there’s The Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2… And that’s just BBC radio! Nevermind TV (the majority of documentary-makers will be journalists, whether it’s for Benefits Street or Panorama), and nevermind the entire commericial sector (journalists will flourish at LBC and Talksport).
  • The clue’s in the money. As a ‘trainee’ you’re being offered around £20k for a full-time job in the media. Yes, if you get the job you probably have enough talent to go off and earn far more in a different sector – but a full-time ‘trainee’ job on this salary shows that it’s a serious position compared to any other entry job in the sector. And the level of funding behind the training and support you get is something else again.
  • As point three suggests – this scheme really is the jewel in the crown of BBC traineeships.

It’s also designed for ‘career-changers’ too – not just graduates or people in their early-20s looking to start their career.

Sadly, it’s not for people who already have a journalism qualification, so if you’re a journo graduate you can’t apply (UPDATE 10/02/14 – THIS HAS NOW CHANGED. SEE BELOW)**. I’ll defer to the official wording:

To be considered for the JTS you need to be an avid follower of news. You regularly read the local and national newspapers, watch television and listen to radio. You also have an excellent grasp of social media.

There is no age limit and the scheme welcomes career-changers who have ambitions to work in broadcast news, but have been pursuing a career in other industries.

Our scheme is not for complete beginners, but neither is it open to anyone who is already working as a broadcast journalist or has a qualification in broadcast journalism.

So basically – if you know you’re eligible and have at any point thought “I wonder if I should apply for this…” then APPLY!

Watch a video about it here – and apply here.

You have until the 10th February** (extended until the 17th February)



Rather oddly (not as many applicants as previous years? Too many complaints about the criteria?***) the JTS scheme is now open to anyone who has a Broadcast Journalism qualification, and the deadline to apply has been extended to the 17th February.

The JTS is DEFINITELY still worth applying for if you have this qualification. It’ll get you a full time paid job in journalism for the BBC – which, if you’ve been studying broadcast journalism – is presumably something you’d be very keen on!

This is a pretty big turn-around in the entry criteria, because I would imagine application numbers will massively swell.

It is – in my personal opinion – very much the right thing to do.

If you’ve got a qualification – make sure your application stands out. This course is going to be about you and your talents, they won’t care much that you’ve learnt the ‘legal stuff’ as part of your course, for example – because so will everyone else.

And, if you haven’t got a journalism qualification and are now worried about the competition, I wouldn’t worry unduly. They won’t be giving preference to those with the qualification, and their experience won’t necessarily put them ahead. But…it does mean there will be more people to compete against!


@BBCTrainees has Tweeted the reason for the change of heart on the entry criteria:

“For those of you who are wondering about the rationale behind widening the #bbcjts criteria, this year sees the BBC launch a brand new apprenticeship across its Local Radio network aimed at non-grads, with a purpose of growing future Broadcast Assistants with an interest in journalism. In light of this expansion to our entry-level opportunities, we’ve revisited the entry criteria for our higher-level Journalism Trainee Scheme and will for the first time be opening it up to those who’ve completed a Broadcast Journalism course at University.”

One response to The BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme – why you should apply

  1. I submitted my application tonight.

    Becoming a full time broadcasting journalism has always been my dream.

    Answering the questions on the application Web for was a joyous experience. Since my teens, I have been writing, and I think I stand a good chance to make a career change at 51.

    Fingers crossed, that the selectors share my enthusiasm.

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