Kate Efomi is ScreenSkills’ Training Manager Liaison for Scotland. Speaking of how the role reflects the aims of the body, Kate said: “I’ve worked in the Scottish screen industries for more than 20 years and have never known it so busy and buzzing. The need for training and recruitment has never been so crucial and it’s been a pleasure to develop strong partnerships with training providers and industry bodies to build on the opportunities the High-end TV Skills Fund brings to Scotland.”
These opportunities, through investments in programmes and courses, have targeted those at all career stages to help talent and productions across the country.
Glaswegian Callum Miller was part of the new entrant Trainee Finder programme, receiving a placement in the costume department for two Scottish productions. He said: “It’s such a great thing to be part of. I felt like I was getting loads of knowledge as well as hands-on experience of working on big productions.”
There were placements too for those at a more advanced stage in their career through HETV funded Make a Move and Leaders of Tomorrow programmes. Each initiative addresses mid-level gaps and shortages by working with industry partners to identify those ready to make the next step and receive on-the-job training for a more senior role.
Maddiston local Cory Townsend is on the HETV Leaders of Tomorrow programme and using the programme to realise his dreams of becoming a locations manager. He said: “It’s the perfect programme to put me in contact with those who can help me progress. It really is tailored to each individual and what they can make of it, it’s fantastic.”
Further initiatives are shaped by the HETV Working Groups. These groups, comprised of industry leaders in the sector, help pinpoint where investment is needed to tackle areas of skill shortage and help shape the focus of the Skills Fund. Producer Suzanne Reid is chair of the Scotland Working Group. She said: “The working group helps us direct funding to where it’s most needed. We need to create training opportunities to have a sustainable industry in Scotland and with the HETV Fund’s support we will continue to develop grassroots training to build a new generation of TV professionals.”
These valued ties to the industry are key in allowing the Fund to further support programmes in Scotland. They have enabled the working group to commission ACES training in collaboration with NFTS Scotland and an early entrant pathway programme alongside BECTU Vision, while a soon-to-launch runner programme in partnership with ThinkBigger! aims to focus on opening opportunities to those from socio-economic backgrounds and outside the central belt.
In November 2021, Becs Meredith took on the newly created role of Training Liaison Manager for Wales and her first year has seen her build positive partnerships with companies and individuals working in screen and development in the country.
Becs, who is based in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, said: “This continues to be such an exciting time for the screen industry in Wales and it’s great to be able to support this via our many UK-wide and Wales specific programmes. We have such a tremendous screen community here in Wales and an abundance of talent and ScreenSkills is focused on nurturing this local talent while attracting new talent to our growing industry.”
This industry growth, with shows like Sex Education and Doctor Who now firmly established in the country, opens up new opportunities for new and existing talent in the country to progress in the screen industries.
Established in 2022, the Wales working group has been central in tailoring Wales-specific investments through the Fund. An early example was the Wales Head of Department Development programme, an initiative for existing HODs who want to broaden their experience and take their next step into HETV drama in Wales. The Trainee Script Editor programme then offered two six month placements to Welsh trainee script editors on HETV productions filming in Wales. There’s further funding too for a Welsh participant on the UK-wide accounts transfer programme aimed to encourage movement into a much-needed are of production.
Producer Adam Knopf is chair of the working group and spoke about how its early focus has been able to have a direct influence on the country’s industry. He said: “The group aimed to support initiatives that nurtured creative leaders of the future and have a long term effect on the industry in Wales. The HOD programme is already helping creative HODs gain their first HETV credits, supporting career growth which will allow them to compete with talent from other parts of the UK. This will in turn improve the opportunities for Wales-based middle management and entry level crew. We also wanted to train up talent who will one day generate IP made locally to employ the HODs that we are supporting.
“By sponsoring new trainee script editors to work alongside production and development teams our hope is that this will increase the creative development workforce in Wales. Having Becs Meredith and the support of the HETV Fund is already proving very fruitful.”
With newly established ties now firmly cemented, Becs wants to ensure that the investment in the Welsh talent pipeline looks as strong as ever. “The message we are keen to share is that whether you are just starting out, making a change in your career, or transferring into the industry from a completely different career, the opportunities are there for you and the HETV Fund is here to help.”
The Fund supported a renewed focus in Northern Ireland, instilling professional expertise and cementing industry links with the formation of a new working group.
Former BBC executive Liz Barron returned to her native Northern Ireland from Washington D.C. in 2022 to join ScreenSkills in a newly created role as Training Liaison Manager for Northern Ireland. One of her first actions was to set up a ScreenSkills Norther Ireland high-end TV working group.
“Money comes into the HETV Skills Fund from production companies and streamers working all over the UK," says Barron "and it’s vital that money goes out to support those at every stage of their career so that companies working here in Northern Ireland have access to the volume of crew and the range of talents they need.”
The Northern Ireland HETV working group is chaired by Louise Gallagher, founder of Gallagher Films and co-executive producer of Blue Lights alongside Stephen Wright of Two Cities TV. Gallagher is also Belfast-based development producer for Hat Trick and so is at the heart of locally grounded Northern Ireland HETV.
“We decided to go looking for new talent,” says Gallagher, explaining that the working group first chose to fund a programme to equip experienced accountants and money managers with the industry awareness and tools to join an HETV production accounts team. “ScreenSkills contracted local Production Guild member Louise Morrison from Feather and Fortune to work with 12 participants from all over Northern Ireland. There is a real shortage of production accountants here and it should make a difference to have newcomers to the industry ready for work placements that the HETV Skills Fund will subsidise. It’s a real win for productions—they get experienced team members to lighten the workload and they get funding to pay them."
Other transfer training made possible through the Fund’s investment includes a standby props programme run through Sarah Speers and Shane Bunting of Stags Head Prop Hire in Castlereagh, Belfast.
“We’ve already had positive responses from production designers and art departments across the board," says trainer and production buyer Sarah. “At a time when production is booming in Northern Ireland it’s great that the HETV Fund is creating opportunity for people to join our industry - and great to know that over-worked props teams will have a new source of support."