Q&A for parents

If your child is thinking about going into film, TV, animation, games or VFX, you may not think this sector is the "sensible" option. Think again. The screen industries are booming and work is well-paid, varied and plentiful.

Q&A for parents
Image: Living the Dream © Sky UK Ltd

It's not a proper job though, is it?

In the UK we’re famous worldwide for our film, TV, visual effects (VFX), animation and games industries. Each year the industries contribute about £14 billion to the UK economy.

There are more people working in the creative industries as a whole – that means industries like architecture, museums and theatre – than in financial services. And it’s a sector that’s booming. Almost 10% of all UK jobs are in the creative industries. 

What’s more, jobs in the creative industries are more future-proof than in other sectors. While other industries are at risk of their jobs being replaced by technology, the creative industries are relatively secure with a huge 87% of creative jobs at low or no risk of this.

But are the jobs REALLY secure?

Most work in the screen industries is project-based.  This means the funding is for a particular project, like producing a film.  Most people in the screen industries are therefore paid on a project basis and so are self-employed, rather than having a permanent job.  The games industry is an exception to this, with 84% of workers on the payroll of a company and only 16% working freelance.

But just because many people are self-employed, it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy good, steady careers. Many freelancers are hired consecutively by the same company and have to turn down work because they have too much.

It’s important your child develops business skills as well as craft skills. If they do, they can earn a good - sometimes very good - living within the screen industries.

My child is rubbish at art. Why are they going for a creative job?

There are an increasing number of jobs in the screen industries that require a combination of art and STEM subjects – that’s science, technology, engineering and maths. If your child is good at engineering and coding and also appreciates art and music, then they have a fantastic combination of skills for the screen industries.

What’s more, there are many non-creative jobs in the screen industries. Like any business, the film, TV, games, animation and VFX industries need accountants, people who work in human resources, data analysts and receptionists.  In film and TV production, there’s a need for electricians, carpenters and plasterers too.

Isn't it all about who you know?

Things are changing. There are now formal routes into the industries through apprenticeships, trainee schemes and straight forward job applications. And ScreenSkills and other organisations create opportunities for talented people to meet industry professionals. Look at our advice on networking and our jobs page

Don't you need a degree to get in?

Many people in the screen industries have got degrees but by no means all. Some get in through demonstrating their talent with a strong portfolio. Others get jobs as apprentices. It very much depends on the role your child is going for.  For a job as an artificial intelligence programmer in games, you might need a PhD. But for a job as a hair and make-up trainee, an apprenticeship as a hairdresser or beautician will help you find your way in. Go to our job profiles and select the ones your child is interested in to find out what apprenticeships are available for those particular roles.

If your child wants to take a degree, then have a look at our list of recommended coursesWe recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the industry. This will give your child the best chance of getting a job after studying.

How can I support my child?

If your child is interested in the screen industries, try to support creative thinking at home. Ask them questions about their favourite games, TV shows and films. Our job profiles provide more details about what the job titles on the credits mean.

Encourage your children to start making their own creative projects, whether those are films, music, or writing a script. Those projects could be the start of their future portfolio of work.  Look in our advice for building a portfolio for lists of free tools and software for starting in each screen industry. There are also many skilled roles that are less dependent on technology, such as costume-making.