Former television executive Liz Barron has been named as the new training liaison manager in Northern Ireland for ScreenSkills.
Liz will ensure freelancers and production companies based in Northern Ireland understand how ScreenSkills can directly support career development as well as support up-and-coming production shoots access skills to develop their teams. The key purpose of the new role is to support the continued growth of the workforce in Northern Ireland, working in collaboration, and liaise with Northern Ireland Screen, the national screen agency for Northern Ireland, local based broadcasters and other associated screen-related organisations.
The role has been made possible by increased contributions into ScreenSkills’ Skills Funds and comes at a boom time for film, television and animation production in Northern Ireland.
Liz Barron is a former Head of BBC Daytime and former VP of Programming for BBC America. She also has extensive experience working in adult education and youth development. Born and brought up in Belfast, she has recently returned to Northern Ireland from the United States and is based in County Down.
“I arrived back on the Ards Peninsula just as Bloodlands series 2 began shooting around Strangford and Belfast Loughs” says Liz. “This is just one of several dramas on location in different parts of Northern Ireland at the moment,” she said. “And although most of Branagh’s film wasn’t shot here because of Covid restrictions, the whole place is rooting for Belfast – and our local talent - in the Academy Awards.
“I am proud to be connecting people here with training and job opportunities that will help them contribute to the future of the screen industries in my homeland. From BBC Three’s The Fast and the Farmer-ish - an Alleycats production from Derry - to The Art of Surviving, a deeply personal documentary by local artist Emma Spence for BBC Northern Ireland beautifully told by homegrown talent at NPE Media, there is a huge amount of entertainment and education offered by Northern Ireland production companies here at the moment.
“Between Puffin Rock from Dog Ears and Pablo from Holywood’s Paper Owl, animation in NI is innovating just as fast as TV and film. The number of technical and craft jobs available is growing all the time.”
One of Liz’s first jobs will be to put together a working group of industry leaders in Northern Ireland, to keep everyone up to speed on how ScreenSkills can help workforce development as well as identify future skills priorities and ideas to drive further growth by utilising targeted HETV funds.
“We already have a production coordinator course in unscripted TV slated for the last week of April in Belfast and we’re planning some outreach to students graduating courses in everything from accountancy to fashion and sound recording where they have skills the industry needs. But when it comes to decisions about skills development at experienced and expert level, it’s important that people who know the skills gaps first-hand have their say about how funds are invested,” says Liz.
The appointment builds on ScreenSkills’ core values of supporting and developing talent by investing in people, creating opportunities for the industry’s workforce across the whole of the UK. Liz will build even closer relationships with local productions, the workforce as well as public partners to benefit the whole of the UK screen industry.
Liz Barron is eager to hear from screen industry professionals and production companies with data to share about existing and emerging skills shortages in Northern Ireland—and from those who aspire to jobs in film, TV and animation and those already in work who may need support to upskill.
Liz Barron may be contacted at email@example.com.