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INVESTING IN THE FUTURE As the UK screen industry booms, ScreenSkills is working hard to meet skills needs at every level
IT HAS BEEN an unnerving few years for the industry. On the one hand, streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have grown exponentially during the pandemic. On the other, pressures on productions battling to find enough crew to meet demand are higher than they have ever been. Never, for organisations such as ScreenSkills, has it been more imperative to support this new age of television and filmmaking. Enabling continued growth and future innovation across the country, ScreenSkills is investing in the talented and inclusive workforce that’s critical to the global success of the UK screen industry. Christine Healy’s day-to-day role is COO of production company Watford & Essex. But she’s also chair of the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Council, comprising industry practitioners who work to inform how the fund invests contributions from TV productions. “Giving my time to work with the High-end TV Skills Fund is a no-brainer,” she explains. “I grew up as a freelancer and this community really acts as a backbone – it’s an area ScreenSkills has a large focus on. “I was fortunate throughout my career to have soft mentoring and informal training, which was invaluable. But as the industry has increased in size, and with high-end TV in particular becoming so prolific, it’s really important that people ensure we are creating opportunities – as well as the right training for those entering the industry.” Healy highlights how even the most practical screen-based careers eventually result in a need for managerial capabilities, as well as the particular skills for that specific trade. “Something that comes up all the time is the fact that, although we have all these talented people, none of them are being trained as managers. While the industry grows, people find themselves with teams to manage as their career progresses. Luckily, it’s now pretty unheard of for a
LEADING THE WAY The work of ScreenSkills is helping to deliver outstanding British content, like The Outlaws
production world lacks – regionally and nationally. The next challenge is getting the message to schools, graduates and people looking for a career change.” There is a phenomenal level of support for ScreenSkills from major players, including the broadcasters and SVODs, as well as indies. This demonstrates an inarguable recognition of the crucial service it provides in upholding worker wellbeing. “It’s all about retention – bringing in diverse people and ensuring that they feel supported every step of the way,” concludes Healy. “It’s impossible to ignore the billions of pounds that screen injects into the UK economy. This needs to be taken seriously, and it’s time to invest in the people that can continue that legacy.”
production company not to include some form of leadership training.” Fortunately, ScreenSkills runs an array of flagship opportunities. “ScreenSkills offers programmes such as Trainee Finder, which brings people in. On top of this, it runs Make a Move and Leaders of Tomorrow, which target mid-level careers. “As those programmes flourish, it also works on getting people into the industry who had never considered it. It’s about helping them understand that you don’t have to follow a traditional path after completing a degree in accountancy, for example. Instead of landing at a firm, they could become a production accountant.” This philosophy could be applied to many traditional career-seekers who still have that creative itch. Carpenters, electricians, decorators – these are all invaluable to production. “We also work to break the stereotype that this is a London-centric industry. ScreenSkills has people like me stationed across the UK, which helps us develop a specialised understanding of what the
29. JULY 2022
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