Introduction

 

1.                  Creative Skillset is the employer-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative industries, including the film and television sectors.  Our mission is to lead on building inclusive skills and talent to power sustainable growth for the UK’s screen industries.  Our vision is to develop professional skills for these sectors in order to improve productivity, creativity and employability.  Our key strategic priorities include:

 

     identifying key skills gaps, current and future;

     improving entry-level diversity and work-readiness; and targeted continuous professional development

     mapping and accrediting professional pathways to support skills development across careers.

 

2.                  We deliver our priorities through a range of activities working with employers, Government, education and training providers and industry bodies.  We are the delivery partner for the BFI’s Future Film Skills programme, using £19m of National Lottery funding over the next four years to enable up to 10,000 individuals across all of the UK nations to get into and get on in the industry, enabling productions to draw from a more inclusive talent pool.

 

3.                  As the Committee recognises Wales is an important centre for film and television production in the UK.  The public service broadcasters play a crucial role in driving production and distribution of content for Welsh audiences, including the investment in Welsh language content provided via S4C.  Wales has also been a growing centre for major network and international TV production, as well as for both studio and location-based feature film making.

 

4.                  A sustainable supply of key skills and talent will be critical to maintaining and growing the production industry in future, both in Wales and across the UK as a whole.  A strategic approach to skills development is needed to ensure both that the industry’s future needs can be met and that it can draw on a diverse talent pool, providing opportunities to people from all backgrounds.  We therefore welcome the inclusion of skills development in the terms of reference for this inquiry, and we are grateful for the opportunity to contribute views.

 

The importance of an industry-wide approach to skills development

 

5.                  Direct investment in training by larger employers, such as the BBC, is crucial – both for bringing new talent into the industry and for the development of the existing workforce.  However, our screen industries are overwhelmingly made up of small businesses (some 95% of UK creative businesses employ 10 or fewer people)[1].  Furthermore, the media industries, in particular, are highly reliant on freelance working in key areas: in 2014 around one-third of the screen industry workforce was freelance.[2]  The production industry is also characterised by a high level of project-based working: bespoke organisations will often be established for individual creative projects – such as a film production – and will, thus, be time-limited.   

 

6.                  These flexible, atypical patterns of working enable employers in the industry to bring together the right mix of talent and skills required for each project.  Individuals can build independent careers working on a variety of projects which suit their interests and skills.  However, these structural factors also mean that many people working – or aspiring to work – in the industry do not have a single employer who can invest in their training and ongoing skills development.  A strategic, co-ordinated approach to the planning and delivery of training is needed, backed by collective investment, if the sector’s skills needs are to be met.

 

7.                  The industry’s structure and operations can also be a barrier to effective engagement with Government skills programmes, if these are not sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs of small businesses and to reflect atypical employment patterns.  As flexible working and career paths are increasingly common across the economy as a whole, approaches that work in our sector may provide useful pointers for future application elsewhere.

 

The importance of evidence

 

8.                  It is important that support for skills development is based on a good understanding of skills gaps and shortages across the sector.  The approach to training investment in Wales should be informed by evidence of the specific needs of the screen industry businesses based there – but it also needs to be set in the context of the UK-wide skills picture, particularly given the highly mobile nature of the production industry (where many people relocate – at least at certain stages in their careers – to work on new projects in different regions or nations).

 

9.                  Previous evidence gathered by Creative Skillset indicated that, as of 2014, almost half of the creative media workforce in Wales had a learning and skills need.  Across the UK some 79% of TV industry employers reported skills gaps, particularly around: the demands of generating content for a multi-platform environment; and the increasing need for multi-skilling in the digital world.[3]  A similar message emerged from the recent skills audit of the film industry.[4]  This is one impact of the rapid changes happening in the screen industries, which are being fundamentally disrupted by technological developments, driving significant shifts in production methods, distribution models and audience behaviour.

 

10.              The pace of change in our industry means that emerging skills gaps and shortages need to be regularly assessed in order that the sector’s needs may be addressed in the future.   Official statistics generally lack the level of granularity required.   

 

11.              As part of our strategic partnership with the BFI we are introducing a new Skills Forecasting service to provide regular, detailed, up-to-date and forward-looking labour market information for our industries.  We envisage that this will, for the first time, provide clear and regularly refreshed information on labour market trends and skills requirements across the screen industries, to inform policymakers and industry investment.  We look forward to engaging further with employers and policymakers in Wales to ensure that this service meets the needs of the nation’s film and TV industry and would be happy to discuss this further with the Committee. 

 

Attracting new entrants: careers guidance

 

12.              There is a lack of understanding and consistent information about career paths and entry routes into the screen sectors, particularly among those groups currently underrepresented in the industry.[5]  Comprehensive and accessible careers information and guidance – for students, parents and teachers – is critical in enabling the industry to attract entrants from a diverse range of backgrounds and in supporting people wanting to identify and pursue screen industry careers.

 

13.              Creative Skillset works with the industry to provide a range of careers resources and toolkits including our digital platform, Hiive, which matches people with screen industry job and training opportunities.  The recently published Sector Deal between the Creative Industries and the UK Government recognised the need for further action on careers across the industry.  We plan to build on our existing activities and work with other parts of the creative industries to deliver a step change in the quality, comprehensiveness and accessibility of careers guidance; and we will look to engage closely with Careers Wales and other key partners in taking that forward.

 

Training new entrants: apprenticeships and technical training

 

14.              Apprenticeships are an important route into the industry, and we are keen to see greater use of them across the sector.  This requires a flexible approach to policy and frameworks to ensure they reflect the structural characteristics of the screen industries.  Creative Skillset has a strong track-record of working with employers and training providers to create and operate apprenticeship standards and frameworks.   We have in the past been supported by the Welsh Government to develop Welsh apprenticeship frameworks for the screen industries, and we now have four major frameworks in operation covering: creative and digital media; interactive media; advertising and marketing; and journalism (the latter will be key in supporting the new journalism apprenticeships in Wales recently announced by the BBC).

 

15.              In England, we have been working with the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) and Government since the introduction of the new statutory apprenticeship levy, but the new system needs to be more flexible in order to work well in an industry which is heavily project-based and relies on freelance working (often on projects lasting less than a year).  The system in Wales, based on National Occupational Standards, currently remains more flexible.  We would urge the Welsh Government – when considering future developments on apprenticeships and technical education – to prioritise compatibility with SMEs and flexible employment patterns.  We are keen to discuss further with the Welsh Government and Welsh Assembly how this can be achieved, to avoid the problems which have arisen in England.

 

Developing people’s skills:  the need for coordinated industry investment

 

16.              Creative Skillset operates a system of voluntary training levies unique to the film and TV industries.  Film, high-end TV, children’s TV and animation productions are asked to contribute 0.5% of their budgets (up to an index-linked maximum of around £40k).  Contributions are held in a central Skills Investment Fund (SIF), which is used to fund training and development activities across the industry against strategically identified needs.  These levies play a critical role in enabling co-ordinated, collective investment in skills development across the screen industries; and they are a particularly important source of training for freelancers.  Funding priorities are determined in conjunction with industry employers.

 

17.              We work closely with producers and broadcasters to ensure that productions are encouraged to contribute to the SIF, particularly where they are claiming tax relief available for British productions in these categories.  In particular the public service broadcasters, as the primary commissioners of original content, are key partners in securing investment from their production slates.  

 

18.              Consistent investment from the industry in Wales, via the SIF, is key in enabling us to support the specific skills needs of the nation’s film and TV industry, as part of a coherent UKwide strategy.   We are keen to work with S4C and other broadcasters in Wales to ensure that they are able to encourage contributions via their commissioning activities.  We also want to continue working closely with the production community in Wales on improving SIF contribution rates and agreeing how to maximise the benefits of this investment for the Welsh industry.

 

Ensuring quality of education and training for the screen industries

 

19.              A common concern from employers is that the quality of current education and training provision is inconsistent: it is important therefore that students wishing to prepare for, or develop, a career in the screen industries understand which courses will be genuinely valued by prospective employers.  We want to ensure that training and education linked to our industries is of high quality, so that it meets the needs of both students and employers.  Our ‘Tick’ accreditation scheme is well established in the HE sector and plays a critical role in identifying courses which are recognised by employers as preparing students effectively for careers in the industry.  A wide range of vocationally-focused courses are currently accredited under the ‘Tick’ including, for example, a range of degree courses at the University of South Wales.  

 

20.              We are planning to expand the successful ‘Tick’ scheme in order to provide employer-led accreditation for industry-specific FE courses, short courses and off-the-job apprenticeship training, in order to help drive up the quality and consistency of course provision in all areas.  We look forward to working closely with providers and educational institutions in Wales as this rolls out.

 

Conclusion

 

21.              In this submission we have sought to highlight a number of the key issues affecting the supply and development of skills and talent for the screen industries in Wales, as well as across the UK.  Effective support for skills in our sectors requires a combination of tailored, flexible approaches and policy frameworks from Government and co-ordinated, strategic investment and engagement from industry – all underpinned by systematic, regularly updated evidence on skills needs and gaps.

 

22.              We would be delighted to discuss these issues further with the Committee.

 

 

 

 

 



[1] DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates, DCMS 2016

[2] The Creative Media Workforce Survey 2014, Creative Skillset 2014

[3] ibid

[4] A Skills Audit of the UK Film and Screen Industries, Work Foundation/BFI, 2017

[5] See, for example, Future Film Skills, BFI/Work Foundation, 2017