The UK's creative industries contribute almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour. New government figures (2020) show the country's successful creative industries contributed £111.7 billion to the UK in 2018, equivalent to £306 million every day. Film and TV alone contributed £20.8 billion.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the sector with BFI statistics showing that at least £426 million worth of high-end television and film productions were postponed or suspended when social distancing measures followed by lockdown were announced. Even as we begin to emerge from the crisis and productions begin again, there is growing evidence that freelancers, especially from poorer backgrounds, are leaving the industry, so we need to redouble our efforts on diversity and inclusion.
As we emerge from Covid-19 and production levels begin to get back to where they were before the crisis, the skills shortage problem will re-emerge. The industry knows that it needs a stronger pipeline of talent but a series of market failures were inhibiting progress and they will need to be addressed as we move into recovery. We must upskill the workforce while retaining access to the global talent that contributes to the UK's international renown and competitiveness.
What we need is:
- Good information to help individuals make rational career choices. Too few young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are aware of the career opportunities in the screen-based industries, so they are missing out on potentially good careers in areas that are growing and that the economy needs.
- To make those who advise young people on careers aware of opportunities. We need to address the lack of information among though who advise young people (whether formal careers advisors, teachers or parents) about opportunities in the screen industries.
- To make the benefits of vocational routes understood. The opportunities and benefits of vocational routes, including apprenticeships, are still not well understood by young people or those who advise them. Without this information, young people who have decided they want to work in the creative industries are unable to balance the pros and cons of the academic versus the vocational routes
- To create more Apprenticeship Standards and enable levy-payers to utilise apprenticeship funding. There are jobs in screen without an Apprenticeship Standard available to train people in them. This is one of the main reasons why employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy are unable to use much of the funds collected, resulting in fewer apprentices being recruited than the industry needs.
- To adapt apprenticeship rules to work practically for the creative industries. The distinctive characteristics of the creative industries, such as the preponderance of freelancers and micro-businesses, mean some of the apprenticeship ‘rules’ don’t work - such as the requirement for a minimum apprenticeship of 12 months with a single employer. This is another reason for smaller numbers of apprentices being taken on.
- To highlight courses that best prepare students for working in the screen industries. There is a myriad of creative industry courses, but not all give students the skills they need to land jobs and make them work-ready. The ScreenSkills Select scheme works with assessors from industry to quality mark courses.
- To retain access to global talent. The UK attracts talent because we are good at what we do, which in turn helps us to retain our global competitiveness. While we should improve our own skills base, global businesses should always expect to attract and recruit the best international talent. More than 40% of people working in VFX, for example, are from outside the UK and Ireland. There is a worldwide shortage of talent in areas including cutting-edge immersive tech and VFX which the UK could never expect to tackle alone.
What ScreenSkills is doing to address skills shortages
Lobbying and working in practical ways with the government to:
- Make the case to the Government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy, so that the apprenticeship system can work more effectively for the sector
- Influence the forthcoming T-levels (the vocational version of A-levels) so that they will contribute to the pipeline of talent into the screen industries
- Influence the new Teaching Excellence Framework (by which universities and the courses they deliver are given bronze, silver or gold status) so that it properly reflects the needs of the screen industries
- Try to ensure post-Brexit immigration policy does not choke off the supply of talent from abroad that the screen industries need to stay world-class
Working with partners to deliver practical solutions including:
- Delivering the ScreenSkills Apprenticeship Programme (20 apprentices who will be employed by ScreenSkills and undertake work placements), through which we will test an innovative delivery model and generate data to support the case for Levy reform
- Delivering free to access training courses, including Covid-19 awareness training for those returning to work
- Developing the new Apprenticeship Standards that the screen industries need
- Skills forecasting: gathering and analysing data on current and predicted skills needs will allow educators, employers and policymakers to plan effectively for next-generation skills need
- Improving guidance: delivering better advice on the skills those considering a screen industry career, and those already working in the sector, need
- Broadening entry routes to improve diversity
- Developing vocational training opportunities and relevant degree-level learning to ensure entrants are ready for work
- Supporting continuing professional development and targeting training in areas where there are skills gaps so that those working in the industry remain employable through reskilling and upskilling
- Strengthening course and trainer accreditation
ScreenSkills is the industry-led body on the screen industries and we are always open to more industry engagement. If you have any thoughts or questions about policy issues, please email our head of policy, Mark Heholt at: email@example.com.