New investment to answer Covid survey demands

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ScreenSkills today announces additional investment plans to support the new challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to priorities identified in a survey of industry, the Film and High-end TV Skills Funds alongside the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds, will support a range of training designed to address the additional health and safety responsibilities raised by coronavirus as well as issues such as the mental health of workers who may be worried at returning to work.

This will build on the free coronavirus basic awareness in production online learning launched earlier this summer, which was based on industry guidance. Around 15,000 people have already achieved the 80% pass rate in the test designed to confirm comprehension in key areas of Covid-related health and safety.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills CEO, said: “It felt important to better understand current industry demand so that we can target resources most effectively in current circumstances. We will develop more in-depth training on Covid-19 for those who need it while offering other support, such as ensuring the good mental health of the workforce.”

The What can we do to help? Employer and hirer survey found 54% of respondents were more inclined to assign Covid-related responsibilities to an existing member staff than to a separate role within production. Just under a quarter (24%) said they were more likely to appoint a new member of staff for the job of Covid-19 H&S supervisor.

It has become clear that industry is continuing to assess how best the additional responsibilities identified in the guidance can be delivered and whether a dedicated supervisor is necessarily the best option. Whoever is held responsible for the additional Covid-19 health and safety duties on a production, just over half of the respondents (54%) would look to ScreenSkills to deliver relevant training, the survey found.

Specific training in areas such as safe costume and make-up fittings, how to clean equipment or use personal protective equipment and implementing Covid-19 guidelines on a limited budget were all raised as concerns in the research.

In response, the ScreenSkills film team this week opens a tendering process to provide training designed to offer key figures on production the extra knowledge designed to ensure compliance with the law and best practice. Even more detailed training to cover the range of responsibilities identified with the Covid-19 supervisor role will also be provided, with funding from the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds.

In order to meet pressing industry demands for extra support, a decision may be taken to provide interim support from training providers already offering health and safety advice, depending on the expressions of interest received.

ScreenSkills bursary funds have also enabled individuals to apply for funding to support taking advanced Covid-related training already available in the industry.

The High-end TV Skills Fund is already running mental health training to support high-end television managers support their teams returning to production who may have added anxiety due to Covid.

Practical information on the safe return to production in the context of the coronavirus is also being offered in ScreenSkills’ new series of seminars complementing the official guidance produced by the BFC as well as broadcasters with Pact.  The first seminar addressed legal questions around the return to work and is now available to view online. Others will address challenges in areas such as craft and technical departments, using the experience of film and high-end television productions.

The TV Skills Fund, which invests contributions from the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5, is continuing to deliver sessions in partnership with ITF on managing the risk of Covid-19 in TV production. It is also offering training on assessing and adapting transferable skills, leadership and remote team management during Covid along with on-going support for freelancers’ mental health and wellbeing.

Both the ScreenSkills Film and HETV Skills Funds, where contributions are based on a percentage of production spend, were severely affected by the pandemic as the production hiatus meant a corresponding cessation of contributions. This has had an impact on skills investment abilities at this current time.  Our industry-led skills councils are working with us to ensure we are making considered investment to ensure the remaining funds are targeted and keenly focused. 

Go to What can we do to help? Employer and hirer survey [PDF] to read the full results of the research.

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