Kaye Elliott reflects on 2019 as Head of High-end TV

High-end television production in the UK has enjoyed another fantastic year with a record £1.55 billion spent in the UK on production, according to official statistics.

We would like to give a massive “thank you” to all the productions that have contributed to the High-end TV Skills Fund. All have played their part in supporting investment in skills across the UK to ensure the industry remains dynamic and forward-thinking. Quite simply, we couldn’t do our work without your support.


Game of Thrones © HBO

We are currently on track to exceed the investment of 2018/19 of £3.3million, with £2.8 million paid into the High-end TV Skills Fund in the financial year to date.

While the demand for skilled talent continues to grow, this year’s contributions have enabled us to support more than 1,000 people so far, providing opportunities for individuals to enter or re-enter the industry as well as supporting freelancers to stay in the industry and advance their careers.  

In 2019, our flagship Trainee Finder programme has supported 114 individuals with placements on high-end TV productions including Killing Eve 3, Guilt, Sanditon, Cold Feet and Sex Education 2. Recruitment to find the new cohort for 2020 closed in December, with a record 1,451 applications for 120 places. Make a Move, our hugely popular fund which enables individuals to be supported to move into more senior grades, has invested in 60 individuals so far, including step-ups to producer, costume designer, line producer and production coordinator.

Inclusivity is at the heart of all our work. This year we launched our new social mobility-focused programme First Break, in partnership with ITV. It provided more than 200 individuals with opportunities to learn about career pathways into television at a series of targeted open evenings, followed by more intensive boot camps in Leeds and Manchester, culminating with paid work experience opportunities at ITV for 20 individuals between January and March 2020.  

Another High-end TV Skills Fund priority is investment in grades where skills shortages are most acute, and this year our investments have included training programmes for accountants, location managers, producers, post-production supervisors, coordinators, first assistant directors and line producers, as well as a return to work programme for individuals wishing to return to careers in post and VFX.

We are also partnering on a series of bespoke training programmes in each nation of the UK to complement the wider programmes we deliver available to freelancers across the country, ensuring there is localised support delivered by our partners on the ground to meet local need.

Our bespoke Leadership and Management Programme continues to go from strength to strength and has provided more than 200 freelancers across the UK with the tools to become better managers of people in their production teams, with a focus on recognising unconscious bias to ensure we are improving inclusive hiring practices. More sessions will be available in 2020.

A booming television industry brings great opportunities as well as great challenges. It is a key priority in 2020 for me to continue to ensure every production company making high-end TV understands how vital their contribution to the High-end TV Skills Fund is in ensuring the continued success and growth of the industry. As the landscape of makers and SVODs continues to change, it is key we have the workforce needed to meet this growth today as well as in the future.

Finally, I want to thank the High-end TV Chair, Christine Healy, and the High-End TV Council and Industry Working Groups who give up their valuable time to provide expertise, direction and industry knowledge to ensure the High-End TV Skills Funds are being utilised to support skills programmes most needed by the industry.  I would also like to add a personal thanks to the high-end TV team at ScreenSkills, who remain committed to ensuring the skills programmes we deliver continue to truly make a difference for the industry we serve.

Please keep an eye on our website and social media for more details on any of the schemes and initiatives mentioned and, of course, check back regularly for news about our up-and-coming programmes.  We look forward to working with you in the year ahead and here’s to an even more successful 2020!

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