An additional £104M ($127M) and 20,000 full-time jobs will need to be injected into the UK’s film and high-end TV (HETV) sectors over the next three years for the industry to keep up with demand for projects, according to the BFI.
The body published its long-awaited skills review today, with the key recommendation being that at least 1% of all production budgets are invested in training in order to mitigate the growing skills crisis.
The review, which has had buy-in from major stakeholders in the HETV and film sectors, said £104M will need to be spent and 20,770 more full-time posts created to meet demand by 2025, with production spend having rocketed over the past four years to £5.6BN ($6.8B). A similar report last week from UK training body ScreenSkills, which predicted film and HETV could hit £7.7B ($9.4B) by 2025, forecast roughly the same number of jobs required but a colossal £300M ($368M) investment needed.
Projects have been rushing back into production since the COVID-19-induced production hiatus and the UK industry is now virtually at full capacity, which is having knock-on effects on worker supply, diversity and wellbeing, according to the BFI review.
If the issues aren’t addressed, the BFI raised concerns that the sector’s “quality of work” could be threatened, which would “potentially damage the UK’s reputation as home to one of the most highly skilled and sought after crews in the world.”
The review noted skills shortages at all levels, which are especially threatening the UK’s indie film sector, placing pressure on already stretched budgets.
The body is immediately beginning work on implementing other recommendations including mapping crew shortages in detail via a service that would capture and quantify availability and demand, creating job description templates that can be adopted by productions at contract stage, providing careers advice and guidance and monitoring the diverse make-up of workforces.
These moves come after the review found the industry is:
- Failing to take an industry-led and localized approach to training investment
- Requiring a more formalized approach to hiring, workplace management and professional development
- Needing to build stronger bridges to the industry from other sectors
- Lacking awareness of comprehensive careers information and pathways
- Crying out for better data to support policy and action.
Multiple senior UK figures backed the review’s findings, including BBC DG Tim Davie, who said: “While we have a world beating media industry, we shouldn’t take that for granted. We all need to ensure British creativity can continue to shine on a global stage.”
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall called the report’s findings “an accurate and concerning picture of the current and future skills shortages,” while Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said “it’s imperative that broadcasters and partners across the creative sector work closely with the BFI to address these shortages.”
On the creative side, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, who has been making waves with his attempts to rejuvenate Birmingham’s ailing TV sector, said the “quality [of British TV] hasn’t changed but the quantity of content being made has gone through the roof,” adding: “The industry urgently needs more crew and this means people have to be trained.”
And ScreenSkills CEO Seetha Kumar called for “a sustainable long-term skills strategy and plan – a unified approach – recognising that stop-start funding and initiatives that aren’t joined up will not address what must be done if the UK is to capitalise on the potential for even greater success in film and television.”
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