New funding boost for Unscripted TV Skills Fund

(c) Dejan Ljami

ITV and Amazon’s Prime Video have signed up to the ScreenSkills Unscripted TV Skills Fund which is committed to supporting skills and training development for the unscripted workforce.

The agreement means they will pay a percentage of all unscripted commission budgets to the fund which which went live last June to address skills shortages and inclusion including boosting training in nations and regions.

As backers of the fund, they join the BBC and Channel 4, who were founding investors, alongside the other founding partners, Sky, A+E Networks UK and Discovery UK. Channel 5 and Netflix also joined last year. Broadcaster and streamer contributions are matched by the production company.

Jane Muirhead, chair of the Unscripted TV Skills Council and Co-founder and Managing Director, Raise the Roof Productions, said: “All of us at the coal face of this recruitment crisis have been crying out for this collective approach to improve inclusion, boost availability of skilled crew and talent across the UK, and future-proof the unscripted TV industry.  It’s brilliant news that ITV and Amazon’s Prime Video have joined us and demonstrates that we all share common goals.”

Sinead Rocks, chair of the Unscripted TV Skills Fund Steering Group and Managing Director, Nations and Regions, Channel 4, said: ‘It’s great that Amazon’s Prime Video and ITV have come on board; having the support of so many broadcasters, streamers and production companies gives us a real step change when it comes to investment in the unscripted workforce. I’m delighted that Sarah Joyce and the team at ScreenSkills are so committed to making our industry’s ambitions for a more skilled and inclusive workforce into a reality - especially in the nations and regions.”

ITV’s Managing Director of Media and Entertainment Kevin Lygo said: “As we extend our commissioning ambitions even further in 2022 with the launch of ITVX, now is a great time for us to sign up for the fund. Having the very best people working on shows, from a wide range of backgrounds is very important to us, so we are pleased to join as backers of this fund, to address skills shortages and boost talent training out of London, in particular.”

The ambition is to increase training investment after some years where funding had fallen behind other parts of the industry which had benefited from tax credits.

Backed by Pact, the fund is designed to benefit producers with a stronger supply of trained professionals in key shortage roles across the UK with roles including development researcher, edit assistant, production coordinator, producer, shooting AP and shooting PD addressed with training in the first year. Freelancers working in all genres of unscripted TV also benefit from a rolling slate of short courses as well as job- and grade-specific training. 

A minimum of 50% of the fund is invested to support training beneficiaries based in the nations and regions, rising to 100% in specific shortage areas. Half of the membership of the council and of working groups who assess investment priorities come from out of London.

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