The British Film and Television Industries - Communications Committee Contents

Memorandum by Skillset


  1.  This submission is made on behalf of Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Media covering the sectors: Television, Film, Radio, Animation, Interactive Media, Computer Games, Photo Imaging, Facilities, Publishing[1] and other content creation.

2.  Skillset is an independent, industry-led organisation; jointly funded by industry and government, our job is to make sure that the UK creative media industries have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, so that our industries remain competitive.

3.  Lord Leitch's report on the UK's Future Skills recommended increasing employer engagement and investment in skills through reformed, re-licensed and empowered Sector Skills Councils (SSCs).

  4.  SSCs are currently under the process of relicensing by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills with a new core remit of:

    — Raising employer engagement, demand and investment in skills.

    — Ensuring authoritative labour market information for their sectors.

    — Developing national occupational standards and ensuring qualifications meet employer needs.

  5.  The Creative Media industries have chosen to work at the skills and education agenda collectively through Skillset in order to maximise investment and impact.

  6.  Skillset will be willing to contribute to the Committee's oral evidence sessions, if appropriate.

  7.  For more information on the work of Skillset, please visit our website:


Q1.  What do the UK film and television industries currently contribute to the UK economy and British culture? In what ways might this contribution be enhanced?

  8.  The Creative Media Industries accounted for 4.8% of total UK output in 2008 (84% of the overall creative industries' GVA);[2] this is a significant input, particularly in relation to their 2% share of total employment across the economy with over 500,000 jobs (67% of the total Creative Industries employment).

9.  The Creative Industries contribution to the UK economy was the subject of Work Foundation's report Staying ahead: the economic performance of the UK's creative industries,[3] and also the focus of Creative Britain—the government's strategic policy paper launched in February 2008. Creative Media industries are key to Digital Britain.

10.  Some parts of the Creative Media Industries are suffering more during the recession, with television and regional newspapers particularly badly hit. These industries are experiencing significant reductions in production activity because of the economic downturn.

  11.  However, the UK Film and TV industries in terms of content creation still:

    — are the largest producer of TV and Radio content in Europe, with only the US generating more value from TV exports; and

    — are second only to the US in the Global Film Market, with increasing box office sales.

  12.  Skillset's works concentrates on the area of skills and how training and skills development can increase productivity in these content driven industries, so that the film and TV industries can remain competitive and grow; this is particulalry important in the current economic environment and in the face of global competition.

  13.  Both public and industry investment is needed in the development of people working in these industries. The ability to produce high quality, innovative UK-originated content relies heavily on the ability of the people working in the UK Creative Media industries to have the talent, skills and capacity to deliver such programmes/films.

  14.  In addition there are intrisic issues that need to be addressed in order to maximise potential and in order to make sure that these industries can attract and develop the talent of all people; these are issues around diversity and fair access to the professions within film and TV industries and geographical distribution—so that the industry can be developed in all the areas of the UK, rather the current London-South East centred approach.

  15.  Apart from the contribution to the economy, these industries' contribution to the culture, democracy and identity of UK cannot be underestimated.

Q4.  Is the UK Film Council meeting its objectives of giving support to production and export of British films? Could it do more to assist the UK film industry's contribution to the UK economy?

  16.  The UK Film Council has been visionary, strategic and supportive in the development of training and skills that contribute to the production and export of British films. Since its inception, it has recognised that the skills and talent of the workforce are of major importance in maintaining the strength of the UK Film Industry and that a coherent approach was needed in order to ensure continued development of talent and high level technical skills.

17.  In 2002 Skilllset and UK Film Council jointly commissioned the Developing Film Talent research; based on those key findings and extensive industry consultation, A Bigger Future, the UK Film Industry's five-year strategy—the world's first film skills strategy— was launched in 2004. Skillset progresses the strategy's aims. This is done with guidance from the UK film industry through the Film Skills Council, which includes representatives from the UK Film Council and Skillset, and, since 2004, with significant funding via the UK Film Council and the SIF (the levy from the production industry). See also Explanatory Notes.

Q5.  Is the current business infrastructure in the UK conducive to the acquisition of the managerial and technical skills required by the film and television industries? Is the business environment conducive to the emergence of entrepreneurial talent, which can take advantage of opportunities in the creative industries?

  18.  Skillset has observed how technological changes had a profound effect on both sectors—in particular the advent of digital technologies—and how fragile the sector has been to economic recession pressures, fluctuation in currencies, regulatory and tax reforms and the global investment output. All these issues demonstrate that the business infrastructure is volatile and not always condusive to the development of economically valuable skills for Film and TV.

19.  Skillset works with the Film and TV industry in order to address their skills gaps and future needs in a coherent and effective way.


  20.  Film Sector profile;[4] below are some key statistics from Skillset research which describe the business environment and infrastructure in relation to skills and talent development:

    — ONS latest figures estimate that 38,634 people work in the industry but these figures do not separate film from video production and distribution; Skillset data looks into the film production and distribution only, which includes 27,000 people; 62% work in cinema exhibition, 34% in film production and 4% in film distribution.[5]

    — There are around 400 permanent companies in the UK film industry but this can fluctuate—only a few film production companies are permanent and mostly they are set up for the duration of a production only.

    — The film industry is made up of a small number of large companies and a very large number of small companies (micro-enterprises) which have an occupationally diverse and highly skilled workforce; 22% of the companies have one to five people.

    2/3 of the UK Film industry are based in London and the South East. However, due to the nature of film production, this workforce is also very mobile. Film workforce is characterised by very high levels of freelancers (90% in Film Production sector).

    — One in 10 people (9%) in the film industry are from a BAME group; if we take into account the London-centric nature of the industry (where almost a quarter of the whole London workforce is from a BAME background) and the fact that film culture should reflect the whole of the UK, this proportion is interpreted as under-representation of BAME groups in the film workforce.

    — Disabled people[6] representation is also low—at 2%[7] compared to 5% of the entire economy.

    — Overall representation of women is 43% and it varies from sub-sector to sub-sector, with the highest in film distribution (46%) and the lowest in film production (39%).

    — 58% of people working in film production have a degree. This is an increasing trend—77% of people working in the sector and are under 35 years of age are graduates. 38% of the degrees held in the film production workforce are media-related, and this is also a growing trend.

    — In Skillset/UK Film Council Feature Film Production Workforce Survey 2008[8] nearly 2/5 (37%) of respondents had done some unpaid work experience in the film industry before getting a paid film industry job. This marks an increase in the proportion compared with the response in the 2005 survey, indicating the greater likelihood of unpaid work experience being undertaken by recent entrants.

Film—a case for intervention

  21.  The fragmented business environment with the fluid pool of labour presents challenges for the acquisition of the managerial and technical skills for the film industry. Absence of clear entry and progression routes into the industry often means that people working cannot be supported properly by organisational structures (ie HR) for their development. For freelancers, when not working, they are actively looking for work; therefore taking time to train is usually seen as double expense in terms of both time and money.

22.  As detailed above, the UK Film Industry and the UK Film Council recognised the need to address skills issues. This is because, firstly they have recognised that the skills and talent pool are key for maintaining the strength of the UK Film Industry—a belief that has been reinforced each year as UK Film professionals have reaped recognition and awards internationally. It is the reputation of the UK film workforce which is key to attracting international investment. Secondly, the technological change and the effects of digital production and distribution are constantly both an opportunity and threat, reminding the industry that its much coveted position as one of the top three film production sectors in the world requires an up-to-date skilled workforce which can sustain this.

  23.  The Skillset Film Skills Fund is the largest fund in the UK dedicated to supporting film specific training. Over the past four years, the Film Skills Fund has distributed around £7 million in grants every year. The fund awards grants to organisations to create, deliver or facilitate film-specific training. Individuals can benefit directly by accessing screen bursaries to support training and by a range of subsidised courses, now supported by the Fund.

  24.  Highlights of what has been achieved to-date includes:

    — Over 12,000 training places have been subsidised through the Film Skills Training Fund. Over 1,400 Screen Bursaries have been granted to individuals in order to use for their Continuous Professional Development (CPD) needs.

    — Training has been provided across all sectors of the film industry—however, priority areas were identified through Skillset's consultation with industry and its Research work (eg Feature Film Production Workforce Survey). These areas included technical areas, such as use of High Definition technology, post production, animation and special effects.

    — Training has also been provided for different professions in the film industry: scriptwriters, directors, production accountants, projectionists, producers, to name but few.

    — Managerial training has been provided at different levels—from Production management to European Co-production; the Skillset Film Business Academy at Cass Business School provided programmes at MBA and MSc level (20 students enrolled on the first ever Executive MBA in Film Business).

    — In December 2008 Pinewood Studios, Skillset and the Skillset Screen Academy at London College of Communication and Ealing Institute of Media cemented their collaboration with a partnership agreement to support training, particularly crafts and technical grades in film production. A Set Craft Apprenticeship scheme began delivery in 2008 to train the new generation of Set Carpenters, Plasterers and Painters.

  25.  Since there is high percentage of graduates (58% in film production, out of which 21% are post-graduate degrees and 38% are media-related) and graduate entry routes (the level of those entering work with a degree is increasing over the years), industry has been working with the education sector through Skillset to create partnerships that can sustain training provision for both entry and CPD. The aim is to influence the education infrastructure to be more conducive to the acquisition of the managerial and technical skills required to work in the industry.

  26.  The Skillset Screen Academy Network was launched in 2005 and seven institutions (including the Film Business Academy at Cass) were selected by the industry as delivering the very best in film education and training. A full list can be seen on:

  27.  In addition to the Network, Skillset has worked with the industry to accredit eight Postgraduate Screenwriting courses:

  28.  By establishing these networks and activities, A Bigger Future has supported a lot of enterpreneurial and business skills developments—below are some examples:

    — Training linked to production, with training programmes for writers, directors, producers that run parallel to production of micro-budget features and short films.

    — Skillset Film Trainee network: The Skillset Film Trainee Network subsidises trainee placements for UK film companies. Companies benefit from high calibre talent, while trainees gain further skills and experience.

    — The Graduate Fellowship Programme provides on-the-job placements in the film industry for people from BAME backgrounds.

    — Inside Pictures: an intensive training programme for a mixture of Producers and industry Executives delivered by Qwerty Films. Participants attend three week-long modules in London and Los Angeles. List of past participants and outcomes from the experience can be found on

    — Since 2005, Skillset has provided a business consultancy service for independent companies working in the film industry, enabling them to train their staff in business and management skills.

    — Skillset commissioned a review of the business skills training in the Screen Academies which examined what business skills training was already present in the Academies and then made recommendations as to how that provision could be enhanced and improved.

  29.  Evaluating the impact of A Bigger Future so far: In 2008, independent consultants (BOP Consulting) were commissioned to evaluate the impact of A Bigger Future strategy in its first Review. Their findings demonstrate an overall positive impact with the caveat that some of the interventions have a long-term approach and therefore it will take longer to evaluate properly (like the Screen Academies). Notable successes included the high level of training accessed by both new entrants and established professionals; the positive impact of the careers advice; the positive influencing of the UK's education and training infrastructure; and the fact that the strategy attracted additional match funding to support delivery, including substantial investment from HEFCE/HEFCW, the devolved administrations and regional EU funding—an estimated overall leverage of £53.5 millions over the five years of the strategy.

  30.  The Review also made suggestions for improvement—two in particular relating to the development of technical and business expertise:[9]

    — Exploring the skills implications of new, disruptive technologies, such as digital distribution, exhibition and convergence, as the industry itself embraces these new technologies.

    — Identify and establish the appropriate vehicle to deliver business skills to the industry.

  31.  Finally, the review recommended that funding should be extended, with an interim year till the next steps of the Strategy are developed; it was noted that given the likelihood of reduced Lottery funding, there will be a need for both efficiency gains and economy savings going forward. The UK Film Council is revising its overall strategy for the future in the light of this and we trust it will still prioritise investment in skills going forward, building on the strategic foundations that have been established through A Bigger Future.


  32.  TV Sector Profile:[10] the TV sector shares some of the workforce of the film sector (in production) and many of its characteristics. Below are some key statistics from Skillset research which describe the business environment and infrastructure in relation to skills and talent development:

    — Around 55,900 people work in broadcast TV, cable and satelite and independent production.

    — Overall the TV industry comprises of 1,450 companies (with two or more people working).

    — Broadcast television has a small number of 10 companies which account for 41% of the television workforce. There are around 250 cable and satelite companies which account for 24% of the workforce.

    — The independent sector comprises of a large number of SMEs (around 1,100 companies) and accounts for 35% of the TV workforce.

    — 25% of companies employ less than five people, and 31% employ 5-10 people. 22% employ 11-20 people and 12% employ 21-49 people. 10% of the companies have 50 or more people working for them (2% employ more than 200 people).

    — 66% of the TV industry is based in London; however, there are creative clusters in cities around the UK; mediacity:uk, for example, is a new development concentrating in Salford/Manchester with links all over the North of England.

    — People from a BAME group make 8% of the TV industry's workforce; however, given that so many companies are based in London, this figure is quite low.

    — Disabled people[11] representation is also low—at 4.7%[12] compared to 8% in the wider creative media workforce.

    — Overall representation of women is good with 44%; however, there are still some areas where women are under-represented, especially in some craft and technical roles.

    2/3 of the TV workforce are graduates—a higher proportion than the Creative Media overall. 46% of the degrees held are media related and this is a growing trend.

    — The TV industry relies heavily on freelancers;[13] more than a third (34%) are freelancers. However this varies by sub-sector: 57% of the independent production workforce are freelance; 26% in broadcast TV; 3% in community TV; and 12% in cable and satelite.

    — Routes into the industry are still fairly informal and incidents of unpaid working still very common; 47% of the TV workforce has undertaken unpaid work at some point in their career (more likely to be at the start of their careers). 58% of TV freelancers have worked unpaid compared to 42% of TV employees.

  33.  TV sector intervention for training: For similar reasons as the ones explained in Film, the TV industry needs a more systematic approach to co-ordinating training for both employees and freelancers. Similarly with film, the industry recognised that skills and talent development is essential to sustaining a healthy industry.

  34.  The TV Industry, working with Skillset, developed the TV Skills Strategy, launched in 2006. The strategy develops actions that will help the development of talent and skills while both entering in and progressing within the industry. The implementation of the strategy is guided by industry through the Skillset TV Skills Council chaired by Peter Dale.

  35.  Below are some of the key activities achieved from the TV Skills Strategy:

    35.1 Skillset's Research programme has created a unique bank of intelligence to underpin the work of the strategy with information on size, skills gaps and needs of the TV industry, as well as its changing nature and profile.

    35.2 In 2008 alone, Skillset Careers delivered 206 face-to-face guidance sessions with the TV workforce ie people currently working in TV and wishing to stay in the sector, people working in TV but wishing to move into a different sector, people currently working in TV, wishing to continue to do so, but also looking to work within other sectors and vice versa, new entrants to the sector. Skillset Careers has also helped 777 people via email and 215 via phone in England alone.

    35.3 The Skillset Media Academies Network of 19 Academies—the first ones launched in December 2007. They were assessed rigorously by industry evaluators drawn from the education sector and the television, interactive media and post production industries. The final selection was made by a high-level panel chaired by Greg Dyke. Altogether our Skillset Media Academies Network comprises of 22 HE institutions, 18 FE Colleges and five training providers. More information can be found on:

    35.4 Building on existing excellence of training in Further and Higher Education institutions, the scale and nature of this UK-wide partnership is ambitious. The Skillset Media Academies aim to bridge the gap between training and employment by focusing industry's engagement and offer of support to a network of education partnerships with demonstrated excellence in learning and openness in industry collaborations.

    35.5 The Skillset Media Academies network presents a great conduit for a variety of activity:

    — An outreach focus, creating ladders of opportunity into HE for individuals from diverse backgrounds.

    — Strong, industry focused and supported undergraduate programmes including a range of Foundation Degrees and endorsed qualifications. The Skillset Academies will focus industry's support for, amongst other things, work experience opportunities, bursaries, scholarships and internships.

    — A new focus for employer and freelance professional development, through higher level qualifications or continuing professional development (CPD) programmes (short course provision, "bite-size" training, on-the-job accredited programmes, etc).

    — A brokerage focus for Creative Media businesses: providing a Research & Development centre function and developing the experience necessary to support business development, management training and create our future business leaders.

    35.6 Apprenticeships: The Advanced Apprenticeship in Media Production developed closely with the BBC and piloted as part of the mediacity:uk development in the North West is now to become a national qualification feeding to a new Digital Media Apprenticeship, piloted and intended to support the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games.

    35.7 Work Experience Guidelines:[14] Co-ordinated by Skillset at the request of the industry and in consultation with the main employers, trade associations and trade unions, the Work Experience Guidelines were jointly published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and HM Revenue and Customs.

  36.  Skillset has also submitted evidence and proposals to the Cabinet Office's Panel on Fair Access to the Professions[15] (for media, publishing and journalism professions) in order to support more structured new entrant schemes and paid internships. We hope that the current occurrences of labour exploitation through unpaid work experience will be reduced over the years, as the Guidelines to Work Experience and good practice models for new entrants will help in changing the current culture of recruitment.

  37.  Skillset has been able to support the TV Skills Strategy because, further to the core SSC funding received by Government, we also receive industry contribution. It is worth noting that, the broadcasters contribution to Skillset's core budget has also been reduced over the last year—please see breakdown below:

  38.  Core contribution:

2008-09 2009-10

£325,000 £325,000
ITV Network£229,975 £100,000transition funding 2009-10 only—it will cease in 2010-11
Channel 4£200,000 £180,000
Five£31,000? Still waiting to hear confirmation
Indie Training Fund£92,000 £20,000Only commitment made so far

  39.  High levels of freelancing, a mobile workforce, high cost of training and the added cost of not being available to work when on training are the main reasons for providing support through the Skillset TV Freelance Fund (STVFF). STVFF is the result of an agreement between all UK broadcasters, Pact and the trade unions, to invest in training for the freelance television workforce. The contributors are: BBC, ITV (including all national and regional companies), Channel 4, Five, cable and satellite companies, and the Indie Training Fund (

  40.  Skillset is administering the Fund according to priorities on the type of training set by the industry through TV Skills Council. In 2007-08 all UK broadcasters and independent production contributed £1.5 million to the Skillset TV Freelance Fund (STVFF). These monies were used to support over 100 new entrants for the TV industry and around 1,000 training places for experienced professionals. In 2008-09, this contribution was already reduced to £1,335,000—so far[16] these funds have supported 105 new entrants and 784 experienced professionals (CPD).

  41.  STVFF contributions:

ITV Network£217,000 £0
Channel 4£162,000 £110,000
Five£56,0000 waiting to hear confirmation
Indie Training Fund£335,000 £70,000Only commitment made so far
Sky£69,000£69,000 tbc
TOTAL£1,335,000 £745,000

  42.  As you can see, in the current economic climate, the STVFF is expected to see a more dramatic reduction; ITV have already confirmed that they will not be able to contribute. We are still waiting to hear from Channel 5 regarding their contribution this year. The Indie Training Fund's contribution in 2008-09 was £335,000; for 2009-10, they have currently committed £70,000. Independent production is the sub-sector which relies most heavily on the freelance workforce (57% of its workforce are freelancers).

  43.  The financial constraints mean that the STVFF in this year will only have just over £745,000 to distribute on training for both new entrants and experienced professionals. The STVFF is not the only way that employers invest in the skills of their workforce. However, these cuts impact on the most vulnerable sections of that workforce and are a good indicator to cuts that are impacting on companies' own training budgets. It is of concern that there will be less investment to a crucial part of the industry at a time when the economic recovery will depend on the ability of the workforce to maximise their potential and remain competitive in a global marketplace.

  44.  Below are some of the actions and impact that the Skillset TVFF has achieved up to date:

    — Skillset TVFF schemes support the acquisition and re-enforcement of core and craft skills including writing and storytelling as well as those which develop new competences required in the convergent media world.

    — Training for very specialised but vital craft skills areas included Design categories, and Archiving skills.

    — Paul Abbot's Voicebox Scheme aimed at new writers and the BBC's Design Trainee scheme aimed at new entrants.

    — Recognising the speed of change, Skillset TVFF supports training based on the demands of technology and other innovation, such as multi platform content development.

    — Developing creative leaders and high-level project management skills for multiplatform content through: DV Talent's "Fast Track" scheme; the Glasgow Research Centre's "Leading Edge" scheme aimed at Series Producers and Senior Executives; and a new scheme run by Manchester-based Inspiral to help freelancers set up their own indies.

    — Compliance and relevant Editorial Standards issues are embedded in TVFF supported courses, especially those aimed at Series Producers and Creative leaders.

    — The Trainee Researchers Scheme where trainees were offered year-long paid placements as TV researchers with independent production companies including short placements at the BBC and ITN.

    — The Skillset TV Freelance Fund supported "Tailor Made Solutions" schemes specifically aimed at developing freelancers in the North West and Wales.

    — 67% of all grants in 2008 have gone to training schemes outside of London.

    — Research is to be conducted into the effectiveness of online learning and its popularity with freelancers to see if more projects can be delivered this way ensuring more flexibility and value for money.

  45.  Skillset has attracted public investment from both national and regional public bodies to support the strategy's work in the UK TV industry. Some examples of this support for companies and individuals include Train to Gain Sector Compact and the Skillset Cymru Training Framework. Train to Gain is the National Skills service funded by the Learning and Skills Council (England) that supports employers to develop the skills of their employees in order to improve business performance. The Service offers skills advice through a Broker who can then assist in identifying and accessing support including funding for training. The agreed with the Learning and Skills Council Sector Compact for the Creative Media industry will re-direct Train to Gain funds to sector priorities which could bring £11 million investment for the whole creative media sector for over three years. Skillset is lobbying LSC and DIUS to allow micro-SMEs (with under five people working)—representing 50% of the overall companies in Creative Media industries (22% of film companies and 25% of TV companies)—to use their Management and Leadership funding.[17] In Wales, Welsh Assembly Government's support for the Creative Media industries through the Skillset Cymru's Training Framework and Talent Attraction scheme has contributed an additional £596,000 in funding support for companies and individuals.

  46.  Skillset has already made a bid to the Economic Challenge Investment Fund (HEFCE for England) to support retraining and upskilling for those who have been made redundant and has been discussing similar support bids for Wales; this will be in addition to the Scottish Funding Council's 5.8 million (over five years) support to the Scottish-based Skillset Academies and Accredited courses and HEFCE's investment through the Employer Engagement Fund (public-private sector co-financing) of £2.5 million (over three years).

  47.  At present Government's skills investment is focused on supporting individuals with low or no level skills. High level skills are expected to attract full investment from employers. The current recession, fragmented nature of the industry and the need to identify and grow key sectors of the economy calls for a flexible and differentiated approach regarding the accessibility of public funding. A more strategic, flexible approach to co-investment with employers and individuals for all the skills is required to help both the Film and TV sectors.

  48.  Both the Creative and Digital sectors are being identified by Government as growth sectors. Skillset is working with DIUS on its policy of skills activism—following Peter Mandelson's "industrial activism"[18]—and with BERR and DCMS through Digital Britain. All these discussions require the Government to invest in high-level skills with the industry.

Q6.  How successful has the regulatory system been in supporting UK content in television? Are there particular types of programming, such as drama, children's or factual programming, for which more support is needed? Could more be done through regulation or incentives, for example, to encourage non-public service broadcasters to commission original UK content? Might financial measures, such as industry levies, be feasible and effective?

  49.  The ability to produce high quality, innovative UK-originated content relies heavily on the ability of the people working in the UK Film and TV industries to have the talent, skills and capacity to deliver such programmes/films.

50.  The Communications 2003 Act has made provision for a system of co-regulation for training: Sections 27 on Training and equality of opportunity and section 337 on the Promotion of equal opportunities and training:

  51.  Section 27 states:

    "(1)  It shall be the duty of OFCOM to take all such steps as they consider appropriate for promoting the development of opportunities for the training and retraining of persons—

(a)for employment by persons providing television and radio services; and

(b)for work in connection with the provision of such services otherwise than as an employee.

    (2)  It shall be the duty of OFCOM to take all such steps as they consider appropriate for promoting equality of opportunity in relation to both—

(a)employment by those providing television and radio services; and

(b)the training and retraining of persons for such employment.

    (3)  It shall also be the duty of OFCOM, in relation to such employment, training and retraining, to take all such steps as they consider appropriate for promoting the equalisation of opportunities for disabled persons."

  52.  Section 337 states:

    "(3)  The regulatory regime for every service to which this section applies includes the conditions that OFCOM consider appropriate for requiring the licence holder to make arrangements for the training and retraining of persons whom he employs, in or in connection with—

(a)the provision of the licensed service; or

(b)the making of programmes to be included in that service."

  53.  Ofcom's new duties and functions derived from these sections which place increased obligations to promote training above and beyond previous legislation. The Act broadens Ofcom's oversight responsibility across the industry with regard to training, by not just including terrestrial television broadcasters as before, but now effectively adding radio and cable/satellite companies with more than 20 employees.

  54.  S4C and the BBC have also agreed to be included under these responsibilities. Skillset has produced Memoranda of Understanding with the BBC and S4C respectively; both these agreements set a framework for mutual collaboration to support learning and the development of skills across the industry at every level to ensure the Industry remains creative, productive and globally competitive. These agreements demonstrate good practice and a willingness to share objectives and priorities in strategic areas of training.

  55.  The Communications 2003 Act also gives Ofcom a general duty to promote self-regulation. Section 3(4)(c) stipulates in particular that in performing its general duties Ofcom must as appropriate have regard to the desirability of promoting and facilitating the development and use of effective forms of self-regulation. With this in mind, Ofcom, Skillset and the Broadcasting industry set up the Broadcast Training and Skills Regulator (BTSR)[19] in 2005.

  56.  The BTSR ( was established as a co-regulatory body working with Ofcom, the industry and Skillset. Details of this system are set out in the Memorandum of Understanding which confirms the partners' commitment to co-regulation and their agreement to some fundamental points.

  57.  The purpose of the system is to ensure an industry-led method of planning, organising, facilitating and measuring the delivery of training and retraining in UK television and radio which is both cost-effective and fulfils the statutory obligations for training. In the process the aim is to ensure that high quality training and retraining is provided in television and radio which is relevant to the industry's needs and appropriate for sustaining the quality of the services which viewers and listeners receive.

  58.  The system gives responsibility to broadcasters for setting objectives and standards for training, both individually and (as appropriate) collectively through Skillset. The BTSR oversees this process and assesses whether the arrangements made by broadcasters for meeting their objectives are adequate. If the BTSR decides that remedies need to be put in place, broadcasters will be expected to take due account of this.

  59.  The powers of the BTSR derive from the relevant conditions in broadcasters' licences, the guidance issued under the licences and the BTSR's ability to call on Ofcom to use the relevant powers in its licences to issue directions, impose sanctions and set more detailed licence conditions where necessary.[20]

  60.  This system has been in place for over three years. In compliance with this co-regulatory partnership, Broadcasters have agreed to measure the effectiveness of their learning and development through a process of self-evaluation. By using a self-evaluation framework devised by BTSR, Broadcasters are equally supported and challenged to measure their own performance as individual organisations and also to enable comparisons across the broadcast industry. There are many positive outcomes from this process which help promote models of good practice and reveal gaps in provision and training needs.

  61.  However, there are also issues; there seem to be confusion amongst the industry on the functions of Skillset and BTSR; the system is still in the early days of its operation and impact is hard to measure. Moreover, there is concern that the current powers have not been sufficient to allow for meaningful dialogue.

  62.  The current economic climate has exacerbated this concern as described above. ITV have already confirmed that they will not be able to contribute to Skillset and they have also cut their contribution to the National Film and TV School (NFTS). We await to hear from Channel 5 on what their intentions are. It is of concern that there will be less investment to a crucial part of the industry at a time when the economic recovery will depend on the ability of the workforce to maximise their potential and remain competitive in a global marketplace.

  63.  Ofcom has taken legal advice on its powers to intervene and have identified that Session 337 of the Act applies only to the staff and freelancers that are directly employed by the broadcaster and therefore does not cover Skillset and the NFTS. However, they have identified that under their overall duty of section 27, they are "to take all such steps as [Ofcom] consider appropriate for promoting the development of opportunities for the training".[21] We await to hear what further steps Ofcom and BTSR are going to take in relation to the current situation with ITV.

  64.  Ofcom has convened a Strategic Review Group amongst Skillset and BTSR to consider within the changing context "how well is the industry equipped for changing training and development needs and for the changing nature of its workforce—what is it doing to prepare for future needs and challenges". As mentioned in their Terms of Reference, this group is tasked to identify the key issues and points of pressure, differentiating between commercial and public service broadcasters, between smaller and larger companies, and between TV and Radio. Therefore, it is vital that there is more joined-up thinking and activity between the group and the implementation of the PSB proposals; we would like Ofcom and Digital Britain to address this as soon as possible.

Q7. How will the structural changes facing the UK television industry, and particularly the public service broadcasting component, affect UK originated television content? To what extent are these effects irreversible? To what extent are they being offset by changes elsewhere in the creative industries sector? What are the implications for television content creation of digital switchover and widespread broadband availability?

  65.  In 2008 there were two major reviews whose remit involved the above issues. Ofcom engaged in these issues on both Phases of the Public Service Broadcasting Review. We believe that both subsequent Reviews lacked focus on the issues of talent and skills development, with the exception of a consideration on the impact that PSB decisions will have to jourmalism entry route in the local tv and radio industries: "This comes at a time when the future of regional and local newspapers and radio faces unprecedented challenges thus endangering what has traditionally been the spine of local and regional journalism across the UK and the training of the UK's young journalists traditionally provided in the regional and local media."[22] We welcome this consideration and we will continue to work with Ofcom on this subject when they carry out a more detailed analysis on the issues and options regarding provision of local content.

66.  As we have stressed before, the ability to produce high quality, innovative UK-originated content relies heavily on the ability of the people working in the UK Creative Media industries to have the talent, skills and capacity to deliver such programmes/films. Skillset submitted to both PSB Phases and below is a short summary of our position: "Skillset believes that Ofcom's market assessment and solutions on the PSB review present ambitious proposals for going forward. We would like to attach in these a key component: that PSB status is attached to a clear commitment and obligation towards the development of the human resources and technical expertise that will deliver PSB programming in whatever platform it could be available."

  67.  In particular, Skillset was concerned that the Ofcom's "Preparing for the Digital Future" did not have a consideration on how the new PSB models were going to address fundamental issues relating to the digital media workforce's future capacity, capability and development in order to produce UK-originated content within the digital landscape.

  68.  These issues become even more important when considering Ofcom's proposals involving Nations and Regions' coverage: "[...] There seems to be very little consideration in the current report of the knowledge, experience and skills issues or the fact that these issues can play a vital role in making the new proposals viable and sustainable (as both the Scottish and Welsh Broadcasting Commissions have already considered). Moreover, in the Skillset 2006 Employment Census we observed an increase in the concentration of the industry in London (66% from 58% in 2004). Our contribution to this debate will be in making sure that there is opportunity and investment to support the creative talent and skills of the people working in the creative media industries and businesses on both National and Regional level."[23]

  69.  Since then, a worsened economic climate and further forecasting around the strength and weaknesses of the UK Economy has pushed the interests of the media professionals and businesses as a matter of urgency. We were encouraged to see early this year the recognition of the development of skills and talent as part of the infrastructure of the UK's Digital Economy in Lord Carter's DCMS/BERR Digital Britain Interim Report. Skillset together with e-Skills (the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology) was asked to submit proposals on Skills for the Digital Economy for the Digital Britain final report.

  70.  Research undertaken by the UK Commission of Employment and Skills[24] shows that companies that continue to invest in the skills of their workforce during a recession are 2.5 times more likely to succeed and grow coming out of it. The UK Film Industry with support of public funding are showing strength and depth in their commitment. The UK TV Industry, challenged by the current commercial context, are struggling to demonstrate the same commitment which has to be of deep concern for a content creation industry in the midst of structural and technological change.

25 March 2009

1   Publishing as a sector became part of Skillset's footprint in April 2008. Back

2   Source: Creative Industries Economic Estimates Statistical Bulletin, January 2009. Back

3   Work Foundation, 2007 (this report was commissioned by DCMS as part of their Creative Economy programme). Back

4   Labour Market data provided by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) do not provide the sectoral detail required by the industry and Skillset to identify and fill skills gaps and shortages. Therefore, in 1999, the industry charged Skillset with generating Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) to a sectoral level and throughout the UK Nations. Unless otherwise stated, data and information in this section are taken from the following sources: Skillset Employment Census 2006, Joint Skillset/UK Film Council Feature Film Production Workforce Survey 2008, Experian 2007, Skillset/Equity Performing Arts Industry Survey 2005 and Labour Force Survey 2005-2007. Back

5   Please note that Skillset lists separate the Facilities and Animation sub-sectors which service Film, TV as well as other media production. For more information on these sectors please refer to the Skillset's research section on the website: Back

6   Disability, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), covers many people who may not usually have considered themselves disabled. It covers physical or mental impairments with long term, substantial effects on ability to perform day-to-day activities. Back

7   Disability data for cinema exhibition and distribution are taken from the Skillset 2006 Employment Census which relies on employers whereas data for film production are taken from the joint Skillset/UK Film Council Second Feature Film Production Workforce Survey 2008 which relies on individuals' self-classification. Back

8   Skillset/UK Film Council Feature Film Production Workforce Survey 2008, section 6.1, Back

9   Review of A Bigger Future Final Report, BOP Consulting 2008, Executive Summary, pp 1-5. Back

10   Unless otherwise stated, data and information in this section are taken from the following sources: Skillset Employment Census 2006, Joint Skillset/UK Film Council Feature Film Production Workforce Survey 2008, Experian 2007, Skillset/Equity Performing Arts Industry Survey 2005 and Labour Force Survey 2005-2007. Back

11   Disability, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), covers many people who may not usually have considered themselves disabled. It covers physical or mental impairments with long term, substantial effects on ability to perform day-to-day activities. Back

12   Disability data for cinema exhibition and distribution are taken from the Skillset 2006 Employment Census which relies on employers whereas data for film production are taken from the joint Skillset/UK Film Council Second Feature Film Production Workforce Survey 2008 which relies on individuals' self-classification. Back

13   For the purpose of this document, and the sources of these data, as agreed by the industry "freelance" is defined as an individual with a contract of fewer than 365 days. Back

14   See: Back

15   Led by Ministers Liam Byrne and Alan Milburn. Back

16   Please note that at the time of this document, some of the supported training courses were still running. Back

17   Currently the offer is available only to companies of over five employees. Back

18   "[We] need to widen and diversify the specialist bases of the UK economy and focus on how we further commercialise and internationalise these bases ...", Peter Mandelson Speech, RSA, 17 December, 2008. Back

19   Please note that co-regulation also covers the Radio industry. Back

20   Memorandum of Understanding Between Ofcom, ITV Network and GMTV, Channel 4, BBC, BSkyB, Commercial Radio Companies Association (CRCA), Satellite & Cable Broadcasters Group (SCBG), Skillset, S4C and Five (2005). Back

21   Communications Act 2003, Section 27, paragraph (3). Back

22   Paragraph 9.6, Page 86, PSB Phase 2 Statement, Ofcom 2009. Back

23   Skillset's Response to Ofcom's PSB Phase 2 Consultation. Back

24 Back

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