If you are thinking about a career in the television industry or you’re already ‘in’ but finding it hard to progress, a recent report by Creative Skillset will make for essential reading.
The good news is that the UK’s production companies are super-busy and frequently have vacancies.
The bad news is that the available workforce increasingly lacks the skills this booming sector needs – particularly in the nations and regions beyond London.
The Full Picture: the demand for skills in UK TV production interviewed the leaders of 121 UK TV Production companies over summer and autumn 2014.
The report provides useful insight into the qualifications employers prefer, and gives a breakdown of the skills shortages and gaps genre-by-genre.
Do you need a degree to work in the TV industry? According to 64 per cent of the company leaders asked, the answer is ‘yes’. But there was evidence that vocational qualifications and apprenticeships are becoming more valued by employers.
Do you need a Media Studies degree? Not necessarily since 52 per cent said they had no subject preference. In fact, 18 per cent preferred their workers to have another degree while only 12 per cent said they preferred employees to have a Media Studies degree.
The reason for the apparent lack of interest in the subject of a potential employee’s degree is that the qualification is seen as a filter, an indicator of a minimum level of intellectual ability and intelligence.
One genre where a degree was not that important was in Children’s Television Production. The right attitude was seen as more important than qualifications.
So, what are the skills gaps and shortages in the UK TV industry according to the report? Let’s summarise, by genre…
News & Current Affairs
Two strong themes emerged in the research where gaps and shortages existed in news and current affairs.
Firstly, employees in this genre needed a greater understanding of social media and the digital space especially in relation to how media is consumed.
Secondly, the workforce needed to be more adept at multi-skilling. As digital news teams become increasingly integrated they will need a wider range of skills in the future.
Factual, Factual-Entertainment, Entertainment
In this genre, the lack of series producers is severe and is in part due to the fact that many companies won’t take risks on new talent. They prefer a safe pair of hands, a known name.
Edit producers are hard to recruit. These are people with editorial knowledge and experience, as opposed to craft editors who possess basic technical competence.
There is also a shortage of Production Managers and Production Co-ordinators in this genre. According to the report’s respondents there is a lack of knowledge of production roles from new entrants who rarely go beyond the runner-researcher route into TV.
Other skills gap areas in Factual et al include people management, social media, casting, writing skills, self-shooting, editing, compliance knowledge.
At entry level, employers in this genre say that new entrants lack basic skills like awareness of how the TV industry works, telephone skills, and accuracy.
Drama & Comedy
In this genre, talented Directors, Production Accountants, Production Managers and Location Managers are highly sought after.
Other skills gaps included writing, editing and script supervision, data handling, health and safety awareness, and the ability to keep up with technological change.
The big skills shortage in Post Production is the lack of talented Edit Supports and Edit Assistants. This is because of the changing nature of these roles: they are increasingly data management positions that require workers to keep up with and adapt to rapidly evolving technology.
Children’s TV Production
All of the companies producing children’s TV in the UK had several hard to fill vacancies.
Skills shortages in this genre include Senior Producers, Production Managers, Production Co-ordinators, Directors and Assistant Directors, Editors, Data Wranglers, Cell Action Animators, and Script Supervisors and Editors.
In addition, the company leaders interviewed pointed to a range of other skills that they need but did not currently have enough of in their pool of employees. These skills included multi-skilling – especially individuals who could blend technical and digital skills with more traditional production skills – self-shooting, and multi-platform content creation.
High End Television
The biggest skills shortage problem for High End TV production companies is recruiting for senior roles – including Production Accountants, Producers and Directors.
So to sum up, based on the findings what’s the best advice for someone looking to start or progress a TV Production career here in the UK?
- If starting out, make sure you know how the industry works and all the production roles within it. The traditional runner-researcher route isn’t the only way in and is massively over-subscribed. No sector reported a shortage of runners!
- You need multi-platform skills and multi-skilling abilities. These are needed now and will be increasingly so in the future.
- At entry level, don’t neglect the basic skills employers need like good telephone skills, accuracy and attention to detail
- Got people management skills, financial and business skills or top notch techie knowledge? Have you considered a career in the TV industry because it needs YOU!
You can read the full report via this link (scroll right down): http://creativeskillset.org/news_events/blogs/3361_painting_the_full_picture_of_skills_issues_in_the_tv_industry