Educators offered insight on how to best support students to start successful careers in screen

Opening the inaugural ScreenSkills Select Congress 2021, Alex Hope (co-founder and former managing director of DNEG and vice-chair of the ScreenSkills board of directors) stressed the need for close collaboration between educators and the screen industries.

“The UK screen industries have core polymath strength in creativity and technology, from storytelling to coding. We have a global reputation for being able to harness these twin strengths and we want to build on this to take advantage of the growth opportunities. This means it is absolutely imperative that we are all working together.

“Those in education need to feel supported by the industry who are sharing new developments with them, so they can train the workforce for the future in the skills industry needs… In what has been a really tough year, there is an opportunity for industry, educators and policy makers to strengthen our talent pipeline. This will uphold and build on the UK’s global reputation and position, and deliver the growth that is needed for our industry.”

The online Congress brought more than 150 educators and industry together to discuss the big skills challenges and opportunities UK screen industries face and how educators can best prepare students for the fast-evolving world of work. An emphasis was placed on the importance of creating a more inclusive industry, including the industry-wide push towards further development of the workforce in the nations and regions.

The programme featured case studies with scripted and unscripted productions alongside discussions with experts from across TV, film, games, animation and VFX.

The scripted case study was led by the senior production team (Steve Clark-Hall, Kevin Loader and Simon Bowles) behind current HBO series Avenue 5. For the unscripted case study, delegates heard from Andrea Hamilton (ModestTV) and Jai Cave (ENVY Post Production), about the making of Little Mix The Search.

Andrea Hamilton, Managing Director, Modest TV, said: “Students need to understand that the range of roles and opportunities available in screen is vast. It isn't just the last four or five on the credit role. There were close to 200 people involved in getting Little Mix The Search to air. It's vital that when educators are talking to students and graduates who want to work in entertainment, they understand all the different parts of the machine and how each one works.

“New entrants think that if they keep their ambition vague – ‘I'll do anything’ - that this will increase their opportunities. In truth, what makes someone stand out is if they understand how all the component parts involved in producing a show connect and work – and know which bit they want to work in."

Other sessions included a conversation between Cécile Blondel, international development director of the renowned French school Gobelins and Tom Box, Managing Director, Blue Zoo.

Tim Weiss, ScreenSkills’ Director of Vocational Skills, said: “A collaborative approach in better preparing students for their careers has never been as important as now, especially given the increasing confidence there is in future industry growth and opportunities.

“The emphasis from the speakers on practical examples will help educators better prepare their students in starting their careers. The advice on how to network and approach the industry was very perceptive and valuable.

“It was also important that educators had a real opportunity to keep abreast of all the latest developments and trends for their own professional development and to network with fellow practitioners and industry colleagues.

“The Congress proved again that ScreenSkills Select is essential for bringing education and industry together, which in turn improves the quality of teaching, student recruitment and the employment prospects of graduates.”

The Congress, held on 23 March,  was available to all educators in colleges and universities. Places were free for educators from ScreenSkills Select endorsed courses, as the Congress is a benefit of endorsement.

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