Making apprenticeships work for the screen industries

We all know that the apprenticeship system is far from perfect and that reforms to make the system work better for screen are much needed. We are lobbying hard for new flexibilities in the system. But, even within the current system, apprenticeships can be the right solution for some companies – that is why there have been nearly 1,000 screen apprentices over the past four years.

Informer © Neal Street Productions

ScreenSkills is a strong supporter of apprenticeships. We have led or supported the development of ten approved and published apprenticeship standards and we are in the process of supporting the development of twelve more. We encourage screen sector employers to take on apprentices through:

Upcoming initiatives include:

  • building employer networks that support employers in procuring training provision and creating viable cohort sizes
  • providing information on apprenticeship standards and drawing down levy funding
  • supporting employers and training providers deliver newly developed and approved standards

For some employers and for some roles, the apprenticeship system works well, hence our support. In 2018, there were over 300 apprenticeship starts on screen apprenticeships. We will continue to support them and work to drive the numbers up still further; our aim is to support the screen industries exceed 1200 apprenticeship starts by 2022.

However, for a lot of screen companies and for a lot of job roles, the apprenticeship system doesn’t work well, which is why we estimate only about £5 million a year of the £20 million screen employers pay into the Apprenticeship Levy gets used by the sector. For that reason, whilst continuing to support apprenticeships, we have been lobbying for reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to unlock the £15 million that doesn’t get used.

Our lobbying effort

We are adopting a dual approach to this lobbying effort

  1. Putting forward the arguments to the Government for a radical reform of the Levy which would enable it to be used for apprenticeships and other forms of training such as short courses or programmes focused on increasing the diversity of the screen workforce (eg wage subsidies)
  2. Aiming to take forward a DCMS-supported Film and TV Apprenticeship Pilot which will test out a delivery model similar to an Apprenticeship Training Agency in which the Agency employs the apprentices itself and arranges placements with production companies

We are adopting these three approaches (supporting apprenticeships where they work, lobbying for radical change and exploring an alternative delivery model through the Pilot) as part of our overall strategy of increasing the ability of the sector to tackle the skills shortages which our Skills Forecasting Service has identified, and increasing the diversity of the workforce and supporting social mobility.

Of course, whilst apprenticeships are a critical part of that strategy and of the training infrastructure, they are not the only one. ScreenSkills also runs a range of other schemes which are funded through voluntary contributions from film and TV production companies. These schemes include:

  • Bursaries which provide cash support for individuals taking courses
  • Mentoring to support individuals already in the industry to progress their careers
  • Trainee Finder which provides film, high-end TV and children’s placements
  • Make a Move which offers experienced crew and talent the opportunity to move to a higher grade by subsidising the cost of a placement
  • Various other programmes