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Is There a Skills Shortage in The Industry?

March 26th, 2010

training_noteSkillset – the industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses – have revealed that there are serious gaps in the creative industries with shortages in the digital and multiplatform sector.

Research also suggests that one in two people in creative media feel they need training and nine in ten reported significant obstacles to getting this – including fees being too high (40%) and employers being unwilling or reluctant to pay for their training (34%).

Part of the problem appears to be that people are leaving colleges with qualifications that don’t suit employers’ needs. “Graduates make up 73% of the workforce,” says Skillset. “And more than half (53%) of all degrees held are media-related.” They continue, “Across the industry as a whole, perhaps the most significant gap is in the use of digital technology and knowledge of digital workflow.” The reason behind this, it would seem, is that many new entrants come with a good foundation of the necessary digital skills along with fine training, yet there are many experienced practitioners within the industry who have not yet made the move to digital, and it is they who are at risk of being left behind. So as the industry looks to fill the skills gaps it’s likely that it will find what it needs through freelance labour, something we are already seeing on

While Skillset predicts that the creative sector has the potential to grow at twice the rate of the rest of the UK economy, it argues that this could be undermined if the skills shortages it has identified are not tackled.  Skillset chair and GMTV chairman, Clive Jones, (also on the board of the Young Vic Theatre, the Legacy Trust UK and the Runnymede Trust) believes that it is crucial that talent is nurtured and “the workforce is shaped up” and “the right people are in place to make this a reality.”

Some parts of the creative media have also experienced a worrying fall in numbers of women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic workers, as well as an increase in people leaving in their 30s and 40s. Only this week Broadcast magazine highlighted “The missing 5,000: women in TV”. The figure was a reference to women who have left the media industry in the past three years, compared with only 750 men.

Bectu’s Sharon Elliot, who spoke at the ‘Women in TV – Is It A Young Girl’s Game? debate (organized by Media Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival and Bafta), said that the industry was “immovable” and needed to respond to the “magnificent resourcefulness of women” that has been debated so much. She argued that women were not being encouraged to stay in the sector, found it difficult to re-establish themselves once they’d had children, and that production needed to change to allow for more flexibility for families (Broadcast, 26 March 2010, page. 7).

For those gaps in the creative sector Skillset have made recommendations and will aim to help narrow the gap by launching professional apprenticeships and internship programmes for the Creative Media Industries. By creating more Skillset-backed courses, and forging closer links to higher and further education, Skillset hope to narrow the creative skills gap and equip more individuals with the skills and experience needed. It’s a big ask.


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