New research reveals detailed look at the UK screen industries workforce

A nationwide campaign to recruit new and diverse talent into UK film and television will launch this week in response to the growth and increasing demand from one of the country’s most vibrant industries.

ScreenSkills, the skills body for UK screen supported by industry and the BFI with National Lottery funds, will run the campaign in cinemas, social media and online. It responds to skills gaps and diversity data identified by new research revealed today and a commitment from the screen industries to build a more inclusive workforce.

Find Your Future in Film and TV will feature the stories of seven talents in different parts of the industry, showing the wide range of jobs available behind the camera – from assistant directing and hair and make-up to lighting, locations and exhibition.

Developed to show the general public the possibilities for employment in the UK’s booming screen industries, it will signpost information about the routes in, including for those with in-demand skills from other industries. The longer-term ambition is to grow the workforce in the UK.

For more information on Find Your Future in Film and TV, including quotes from the seven featured talents, read the separate release here.

The campaign is part of a strategy aimed at creating and promoting clearer pathways into the screen industries and professionalising the skills and training of the existing workforce. It is underpinned by the Skills Forecasting Service which has been set up to bolster anecdotal evidence of skills needs with a robust evidential base to make targeted interventions where there is most need.

The Annual ScreenSkills Assessment is a comprehensive analysis of existing data combined with a specially commissioned survey of more than 400 employers on the state of the screen sector workforce. Brought together into one study for the first time, headline statistics unveiled today show the screen industry sectors (television, film, VFX, animation and games) have:

  • a higher proportion of male workers (62%) than the working population of the UK economy as a whole (53%)
  • a lower proportion of workers aged 50+ (20%) compared to the UK economy (31%)
  • a higher proportion of workers aged below 40 (57%) compared to the UK economy (46%)
  • a higher proportion of workers with a white ethnic background (90%) than the UK economy (88%)
  • fewer people with disabilities (10%) than the UK economy (14%)
  • comparatively more workers from overseas (6%) compared to the overall UK economy (4%), though slightly fewer workers from the other 27 countries in the European Union (6%) than the UK economy (7%). The percentage of EU workers in sectors such as VFX and animation is much higher, according to evidence from the UK Screen Alliance which represents them.

The campaign and the new research are supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy. The research was developed in partnership with the Work Foundation.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills Chief Executive, said: “The findings we are publishing today are important in helping us to better understand our fast-moving industries and to help us invest sensibly in skills and training to tackle the challenges created by the current production boom.

“The UK’s film and television industry is world-famous and we are launching our Find Your Future in Film and TV campaign to keep it that way. We want to attract new and diverse talent to take on the wide range of jobs available behind-the-camera and help maintain the current success.

“We all know that more needs to be done to make sure that UK screen has an inclusive workforce to help it tell a greater diversity of stories.”

Other headlines of the Annual ScreenSkills Assessment
By bringing together official data from official sources including the ONS (Office for National Statistics) with a specially-commissioned survey of more than 400 employers in the screen industries, ScreenSkills today presents the most comprehensive picture available of one of the UK’s most successful industries.

Among the findings of the work conducted is evidence that:

  • The impact of skills shortages on UK screen businesses with a third of businesses reporting recruitment difficulties in the last 12 months and more serious problems in VFX, animation and games
  • Businesses in the screen industries have a more international focus than the average across the UK economy and are more than twice as likely to sell their products to the EU.

It also reveals where more information is needed to understand the industry. Further research is needed, for example, to better understand the freelance workforce including its earnings and diversity and how workers move between different parts of the sector, such as from film to high-end television.

In the last year, ScreenSkills has supported programmes for in-demand roles such as grips, script supervisors, location managers, production accountants and set decorating. Initiatives targeted at groups under-represented in the industry included a workshop to introduce more people from BAME backgrounds to action stunts and training to work in VFX production as well as a programme to support women executives in distribution.

ScreenSkills is also working with the Government on helping make the new apprenticeship system work for the screen industries and it offers guidance and other practical information on diversity and inclusivity monitoring on its website.

Please see Appendix 1 for more key statistics. You can read the executive summary of the Annual ScreenSkills Assessment here

For more details of the research or the campaign, please contact Louise Jury, Director of Communications and Marketing, on or 020 7713 9883/07841 496636

About ScreenSkills
ScreenSkills, formerly known as Creative Skillset, is the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen industries - animation, film, games, television including children's TV and high-end drama, VFX and immersive technology. We work across the whole of the country to ensure that UK screen has access now, and in the future, to the skills and talent needed for continued success. 

The analysis outlined in this press release is part of ScreenSkills’ Skills Forecasting Service, which ScreenSkills is delivering for the BFI as part of its Future Film Skills strategy. The service also includes more regular snaphots of the state of the sector known as the Quarterly ScreenSkills Barometer. The Annual ScreenSkills Assessment and ScreenSkills Forecasting Analysis will be published in full shortly.

ScreenSkills’ work in finding, developing and retaining a skilled workforce for the UK’s screen industries includes:

  • Providing careers information, both online and through UK-wide careers events, to help find and inspire next generation talent
  • Finding and supporting new entrants including through the Trainee Finder work placement programme
  • Investing in skills and training for the existing workforce, including programmes to help professionals return to the industry after a career break for caring or parenting responsibilities, programmes to support progression into more senior roles across the industry and programmes to further diversify the workforce. All programmes have diversity and inclusivity targets
  • Strengthening the industry through initiatives including the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network which includes best practice guidance for effective mentoring and aims to match 3,000 mentoring pairs by 2022

About the BFI
The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:

  • Connecting audiences to the widest choice of UK and world cinema
  • Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations
  • Championing emerging and world class filmmakers in the UK – investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work
  • Promoting UK film and talent to the world 
  • Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences

The BFI is a Government arm’s-length body and distributor of Lottery funds for film. The BFI serves a public role which covers the cultural, creative and economic aspects of film in the UK. It delivers this role:

  • As the UK-wide organisation for film, a charity core funded by Government
  • By providing Lottery and Government funds for film across the UK
  • By working with partners to advance the position of film in the UK

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.

About the Work Foundation
The Work Foundation is an advocacy and research organisation which is a part of Lancaster University

Appendix 1: Screen in official stats

  • Total number of people working in the screen industries is estimated through national statistics at 211,000 in 2017, the last year for which figures were available when the data analysis was undertaken
  • Film and TV production accounts for the largest segment of the workforce (41%) followed by TV programming and broadcasting (25%)
  • 28% of the total screen workforce are estimated to be self-employed. Film and TV production has the largest proportion (50%), followed by film and TV post-production (39%). Film exhibition reports no freelancers and film and TV programme distribution comparatively few (8%)
  • 86% of respondents to the ScreenSkills Employer Survey work with freelancers
  • Average median weekly pay in all screen sectors of payroll workers is higher than the wider UK average with the sole exception of film exhibition
  • A little over 24,000 businesses operate within the screen industries
  • 70% have fewer than five employees (compared to 64% of businesses in the wider economy)
  • Total turnover for the screen industries is £37.5 billion
  • 15% of businesses in screen sell products/services internationally, primarily outside the EU, almost four times the average across the UK economy (4%)
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of screen businesses sell products/services internationally, primarily within the EU, compared to 9% of businesses across the UK economy
  • More workers from overseas are employed across screen than in the wider UK economy though slightly fewer from the EU27 countries. This hides significant exceptions, such as VFX were UK Screen Alliance research shows one in three workers are from the EU
  • Half of respondents to the ScreenSkills Employer Survey felt that their workforce was not representative of the UK population. Of those that thought it was representative were typically following best practice with flexible working, fairer recruitment practices and transparency. Such practices could make a significant contribution to improving diversity and inclusivity if adopted across the screen industries.
  • 33% of respondents to the ScreenSkills Employer Survey report suffering recruitment difficulties over the last 12 months, rising to 58% in VFX, 50% in games and 48% in animation
  • 60% of employers had arranged or funded training in 2018. Only a third invest in training for freelancers


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