ScreenSkills takes a leadership role in developing thinking on skills and training.

We also work with every level of government, including the nations and regions, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and other important organisations to influence the development and implementation of policy on issues such as the Apprenticeship Levy and education to secure practical solutions in the best interests of skills and training for the screen industries.

Read on for more about our work on tackling current and future skills shortages. 

Baptise © Two Brother Pictures


The creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy and, in 2017, were worth £101.5 billion a year, more than that of aerospace, automotive, life sciences and oil and gas combined. The contribution of the UK screen sectors - including film, television, VFX (visual effects) and animation - is valued at around £16.7 billion.

Skills challenges

The growth of the UK's screen industries means they are facing acute skills shortages. For example, the Creative Industries Council has estimated there are currently 77,000 positions vacant or where stronger skills are needed. There is also a lack of diversity in the industry, with 90%  of creative industry jobs occupied by more advantaged socioeconomic groups.

 The industry knows that it needs a stronger pipeline of talent but a series of market failures are inhibiting progress and require intervention. 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:

  • Explore how the rules on apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy could be amended to incentivise more employers to take on more apprentices
  • 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:

  • Prioritising and 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 policy responses

Please find links to submissions we have made to government on key policy:

Post-16 qualifications consultation response, June 2019 (PDF)
ScreenSkills has raised concerns about the practical implementation of new technical qualifications in a response to a government consultation.

Get involved

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: mark.heholt@screenskills.com.