Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1185-1253)|
Ms Dinah Caine OBE and Ms Kate O'Connor
24 JUNE 2009
Q1185 Chairman: Welcome. I think
you know what we are about. We are trying to look at the film
and television industries to see how they are progressing and
what contribution they make both economy and culturally, and to
see what government can do to improve that, if government can
deliver it. It is a very complicated business and it is a question
of what government can actually do. Training is obviously an important
part, where government has always had a particular interest. Perhaps
I could start by asking which skills are most in demand and which
are most in deficit in the UK film and television industries?
Ms Caine: We decided that it probably would
be best if Kate were to field all the film questions and I were
to field the TV ones, just to make things simple, so Kate will
kick off on film.
Ms O'Connor: The film industry is relatively
contained in terms of numbers employed within the sector. Overall
there are just under 30,000 people employed in the film industry
and that includes people employed in the cinema and exhibition
sector. If we are really focusing on the production side of the
film skills agenda, about 10,000 are people employed across a
huge range of different skills areas, from the highly creative
through to the very technical and craft oriented. One thing I
would like to say before I answer your question specifically is
that Skillset over the last five years has worked in partnership
with the UK Film Council and the industry directly, to put in
place a film skills strategy which addresses issues from the cradle
to the grave. Because some of the issues are not just about skills
shortages but about making sure you have all the right kinds of
people in the industry, that there is open access to jobs within
the industry, that we have created a diverse workforce that really
pulls on the talent for the UK, so our issues are not just about
plugging specific skills gaps and shortages but making sure the
industry is open and moves into it are clear. The kind of skills
shortage issues that we have been addressing are increasingly
a shortage of some of the craft and technical areas.
Q1186 Chairman: Meaning?
Ms O'Connor: Ranging from people who build sets,
through to highly specific technical skills in the visual and
digital special effects industryand there is a global skill
shortage of some of those skillsincluding compositors and
artists in that sector.
Q1187 Chairman: In the special effects
industry, what kind of skills would you require?
Ms O'Connor: In the visual and digital special
effects industry that I have just talked about, there is that
fusion of creative and technical skills and being able to come
up with ideas/characters and then manipulate images and create
these fantastic special effects.
Q1188 Chairman: What would be the
basic background that you would need to do that?
Ms O'Connor: Lots of new entrants come through
with degrees in animation, or sometimes in subjects like computer
games development even, because some of the skills overlap, or
some of them are coming from an arts background. The employees
in the sector say that quite often they want those kinds of skills
to cross the traditional subject disciplines, that within our
universities we have quite demarcated departments, with science
and IT in one block and animation and art in another, and the
two need to meet in the middle. I have to say quickly that some
of our courses are really grasping that. They are doing particularly
well in Bournemouth and at the University of Hertfordshire; in
Teeside; at Central St Martin's. There are some really good courses
coming through with the support of Skillset and the industry feeding
in their needs. It is that mixture.
Q1189 Chairman: Would a person come
to Bournemouth, say, with an initial degree, and then do postgraduate
work, or would he or she go there initially?
Ms O'Connor: It is a mixture. Lots of the animations
degrees that we have accredited on behalf of the industrywe
have Kite marked some of those degreesare at undergraduate
level, but then there are very specific specialist degrees at
postgraduate level at Bournemouth, at the National Film and Television
School, Central St. Martin's and other centres of excellence.
We have created this network of media and screen academies where
there is a real mix of undergraduate and postgraduate provision.
That is the aim of the industry.
Q1190 Chairman: If you were to delineate
one area where there were skill shortages, it would be in this
rather specialist area. Is that right?
Ms O'Connor: There are definite skill shortages
in visual digital special effects, so much so that we have had
to register these jobs with the Home Office in terms of special
arrangements for work permits and so on. That is a particular
area of need, in the visual effects area.
Q1191 Chairman: That means that we
have to take people in from outside.
Ms Caine: Yes.
Ms O'Connor: Exactly so. Also, at the same time
as doing that, we want to create our home-grown talent through
our universities and schools and colleges. In other areas, it
is more a case of keeping pace with the change in technology and
the different kinds of working practices, and so our strategy
is to make sure that our technicians and our crafts people can
work within the new context of HD or use new types of camera equipment
or whatever the particular issue is. Some of our work is about
making sure that our continued professional development takes
place with our existing freelancers, because 90 per cent of the
industry are freelancers.
Q1192 Lord Maxton: You have to do
some forecasting, do you?
Ms O'Connor: Yes, we do.
Q1193 Lord Maxton: As to what the
next trend is.
Ms O'Connor: Yes, we do. Absolutely. In fact,
as we speak, Skillset is refreshing the strategy for the film
sector and we are calling in groups of employers and equipment
manufactures and the people who are funding films and thinking
through the pricing formats. We pull from that the implications
for the skills of the workforce, so that we keep pace.
Q1194 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
On this business of education and training in the Digital Britain
report, I imagine you welcome very much ICT being a major building
block in primary education, but there is a remarkable statistic
which I must confess I did not quite believe that only ten per
cent of those doing A-level computing are female. (a) do you think
that is correct and (b) have you any explanation for it?
Ms Caine: We certainly think it is correct because
that information was supplied by the Sector Skills Council which
deals with that area, which is e-skills. Certainly they do have
problems in the ICT industry of attracting women and, indeed,
of people from BAME backgrounds to work in the industry, so much
so that they have specific initiatives to do with computer clubs
for girls and so forth. Yes, that statistic is there and we understand
it to be absolutely correct.
Q1195 Chairman: Is there anything
else you want to say about skills in film in demand?
Ms O'Connor: There is a big issue about making
sure that we have integrated business skills within everything
we do. That has come through time and time again in conversations
we have had with the industry and all of the representative bodies.
Q1196 Chairman: We have had that
in written evidence as well.
Ms O'Connor: Then there is the issue I mentioned
at the front end of my answer which is about ensuring that we
have a more diverse workforce. The majority of the film industry
is based in London and the South East. As I have said, 90 per
cent are freelancers, and just one in ten of the workforce is
from a BAME backgroundwhich absolutely does not reflect
the workforce in London and the South East. That is something
we really do want to address with the industry.
Ms Caine: I would just add one thing on film,
if I may, which is of course that it is also very, very important
that we maintain our investment commitment to developing a creative
talentthe writers, the directors, the producers and so
onbecause at the end of the day they are the major engine
of British production, and obviously the kinds of areas Kate was
talking about are also very, very critical for inward investment,
from the American industry in particular, which is the biggest
investor in the film industry. Turning to TV, in some ways it
is quite interesting that we are talking about film and television
as siloed industries, at a period when we are also looking at
digital Britain and a growing emphasis on content creation which
is available for multi-platform environments whatever they may
be. Just some headline stats: about 55,000 people work in broadcast
TV, cable and satellite and independent production. We are just
in the middle of doing some work with Ofcom looking at changing
skill sets for the industry and that has thrown up some very clear
areas, one of which is multi-skilling, which can take a variety
of forms. An example would be assistant producers now being able
to self-shoot and self-edit. There is a lot of talk about t-skills,
where people need to have an awareness of, as it were, the production
processes across the piece. It is very important in this multi-platform
environment, but then a specialism. There is a big need to maintain
the core creative skillsvery similar to the film industry.
That is, as it were, what is commoditised. Particularly with independent
television production, the markets in which they make their money
are increasingly through exports to other territories, so it is
that core creativity which is critical. There are craft and technical
issues in specific areas, and we are very happy to give you more
detail on this if you want it in further written work. Cross-platform
skills are obviously very important now. Everything from technical
skills, core production skills, management and leadership, particularly
around exploitation of IP, legal rights, compliance and business
modelling. Finally, there are specific gaps and shortages. We
are an organisation that works across the UK. We work in the nations
and we work in the regions. You will see definite differences
in relation to geographic areas; for example, to take Scotland,
basically with the BBC now growing network share and other things
there is a real need to develop script talent there to drive some
of the business coming in and some of the network possibilities.
As I say, we have all the detail on this, so if you want us to
draw down the detail we can.
Q1197 Chairman: That is very kind.
In a sense I started before I should have, so perhaps you could
tell us in a few words what Skillset is and what it aims to do.
Ms Caine: Skillset is the sector skills council
for creative media, and our evidence shows which sectors that
Q1198 Chairman: Yes.
Ms Caine: In effect, we work with and through
the industry to make sure that we have the right people with the
right skills and talent in the right place at the right time.
As a sector skills council we are industry-led and managed, but
we are also licensed by government in all four nations. We are
one of 25. The licence which is issued by our regulator, the UK
Commission for Employment and Skills, requires us effectively
to demonstrate that we have full employer and industry support.
We have to deliver in three key areas, one is providing detailed
labour market information and skills forecasting on the needs
of our industry, one is around the development of national occupational
standards and qualifications, and the final one, which is the
biggest and broadest and we feel has the most impact, is to work
with the employers and workforces in our sectors to encourage
attention to skills and investment in skills. Clearly within every
sector the context will vary. For example, with us, because our
sector recruits so heavily from higher education, we have placed
a lot of time and effort into building relationships with higher
education. That is who we are.
Q1199 Chairman: To try to summarise
your summary, you are working absolutely hand in glove with the
industry itself. The industry supports you.
Ms O'Connor: Yes.
Ms Caine: The industry manages and leads us.
In the industry are people who, as it were, go forward to say
to Government, "We want this organisation to do the work
that it is doing and we want this organisation to be licensed."
All 25 sector skills councils have just been through a re-licensing
process. Skillset was one of the first to have gone through that.
It was an in-depth analysis, undertaken by the NAO. At its heart
was checking with our employers that they support us and want
us. As the Digital Britain report says, the outcome of
that is that we have been found to be a sector skills counciland
I quote without wishing to sound bigheadedof the "highest
calibre who commands the support of our employers."
Q1200 Chairman: Did I not see in
your evidence that you want an industry training board?
Ms Caine: We do not want an industry training
Q1201 Chairman: You do not.
Ms Caine: The film industry wants an industry
Q1202 Chairman: You do not want one
but the film industry does.
Ms Caine: As an organisation, we have pursued
the establishment of an industry training board because that is
what the industry has said they want to do.
Ms O'Connor: In film.
Ms Caine: In filmjust in film, to be
very specific about that. As Kate says, it is a 90 per cent freelance
workforce. The outcome of work that we did in 1997 on The Bigger
Picture, which was the film policy review, identified skills
as one of the key areas. We worked with the industry to set up
a voluntary levy which we currently collect on behalf of industry,
the Skills Investment Fund. It brings in about £750,000 a
year on average, depending on production levels, and at the moment
compliance runs at about 60 to 70 per cent. The industry saw the
benefits of what the voluntary levy had brought but also did not
want others to "free ride"if I can quoteand
therefore the consultation is taking place with the industry and
the industry have said that they want to set up a statutory levy.
Q1203 Chairman: I think I remember
that this debate started in the 1980s and went on and on. I seem
to remember when I was Secretary of State for Employment we had
Ms Caine: Probably. There are only two other
industries where there are still industry training boards, one
of which is construction and one of which is engineering construction.
Film is now wanting to join them. The thing that joins all of
those three sectors is that they all rely mainly on freelance
Q1204 Chairman: For the industryand
we are going to come on to funding in a momentthe great
advantage that they see is that there would be a compulsory levy
and no-one would be able to get out of it.
Ms Caine: That is correct, because they all
rely on a common pool of labour. In other sub-sectors that we
deal with, absolutely they would not be going there, they would
not be going anywhere near there, because they employ people and
they have a direct relationship.
Q1205 Chairman: Is not the disadvantageand
I am trying to remember 20 years agothat you have a rather
impersonal top-down approach rather than an industry, more committed
Ms Caine: Certainly your memory is correct in
terms of what I understand, because it was slightly before my
time, of how those large industry training boards worked. I would
say two things. In this instance we have already operated a voluntary
levy. The people who decide how that money is spent and where
it is prioritised are representatives of the industry. They are
working producers in the industry. The same will hold true when
it becomes an industry training board because it has to be representatives
of those who are in support of the levy. We are probably only
going to be collecting about £1 million to £1.25 million.
It is small. We already have a very well-thought through film
skills strategy and we feel very close to that employer base.
It was grants and paybacks and exemptions, and there seemed to
be a whole bureaucracy around the old ITBs which I think we absolutely
Chairman: I remember that the construction industry
training board had a training centre which was positively military
in its approach. It took me back to my National Service.
Q1206 Lord Inglewood: I would like
to turn now to money and ask a number of discrete questions, which
I hope do not sound too stupid, and then we will get a clear picture
about your funding. You get cash given to you by the Government.
Ms Caine: Yes.
Q1207 Lord Inglewood: And ...?
Ms Caine: Okay. We get cash given to us by the
Government. We get a core grant of about £2 million to deliver
our role as a sector skills council, so that is the same as all
of the other sector skills councils. We then have contributions
to our core activities for the broadcasters and from the film
Q1208 Lord Inglewood: Those are voluntary
on their part.
Ms Caine: Yes.
Ms O'Connor: Yes, from the film industry and
from the broadcasting industry. We then hold specific restricted
funds, again for film and for TV, which are there purely for the
purpose of investing in training delivery.
Q1209 Lord Inglewood: Where does
the money in the fund come from?
Ms Caine: The money in the film skills fund
comes from a combination of sources. One is the skills investment
fund that we were just talking about, the £750,000 industry
levy. The rest, £6.5 million for the last four years and
£5.4 this year, comes from the UK Film Council and is Lottery
financed. In terms of the training funds we hold on behalf of
television, the picture is a rather moving one there.
Q1210 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Yes, and not in the right direction.
Ms Caine: And a reducing one. Basically, in
2007-2008 all UK broadcasters and independent production contributed
£1.5 million to our TV freelance fund.
Q1211 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
Is that satellite channels too?
Ms Caine: Yes. They have made some contribution.
That has reduced in 2008-2009 to £1,335,000, and this year
we are down to £745,000. Obviously I can give you the breakdown
and, indeed, would probably highlight two key areas there for
Q1212 Lord Inglewood: You do not
"go out and earn money". That is not part of your brief.
Ms O'Connor: We do not earn money in the sense
of generating income but we do bid for project activity and we
can bid for that project activity from a range of government agencies
across the UK. Some of that money then is spent on delivering
training, commissioning training, and some of the project money
we bid for contributes to our core costs, in fact.
Q1213 Lord Inglewood: When you say
delivering training, do you train yourselves, or do you always
get other people to do it?
Ms O'Connor: We always commission third-party
trainers, yes. We always get the money out to the expert trainers.
We do issue bursaries as well, so chunks of our money from both
TV and film go out to the individual so that they have a bursary
that they can choose training from. But mostly our money goes
to training providers, who can then offer the training at a vastly
subsidised rate to freelancers in either TV or film or, where
the skills cross over, both.
Q1214 Lord Inglewood: You were talking
about universities earlier. You do not do subsidised courses there,
Ms O'Connor: No.
Q1215 Lord Inglewood: You merely
discuss with them what they are doing.
Ms O'Connor: Yes. Again I am afraid it is different
in terms of the approach we take with film and television and
the other industries we deal with. With film it is very different
because the funding we have allows us to invest directly into
further and higher education provision, and so for the last five
years we have done that. We have set up this small number of screen
academies, just to look at film skills, including institutions
like the National Film and Television School, Bournemouth, the
London Film School, the Edinburgh College of Art (Napier), Glamorgan
and Newport in Wales and Ealing College and the London College
of Communications. Those screen academies focus on skills, training
and education, and we do fund some of their programmes to ensure
that they are working more closely with the industry, doing outreach,
talent scouting. We have all sorts of programmes that we help
them with directly by giving them cash, and we also give students
who could not otherwise afford to do a course bursaries so that
they can take up that offer. With our wider work with further
and higher education, we do not have that kind of fund, so we
try to work with those colleges and universities, that is the
majority, to improve what they are doing. Obviously this is where
the Government comes in: working with agencies like HEFCE in England
and the Scottish Funding Council, HEFQW in Wales and the Department
for Education and Learning in Northern Ireland, to try go get
them more funding for these very specialised and high level and
highly needed courses in further and higher education. We do work
with government to try to lever money into those courses.
Ms Caine: On that, to come back to your well-observed
point, our role is mainly as a broker and we bring to bear the
employer leadership and influence to try to seek to influence
the rest of the publicly funded education and training system,
as well as, obviously, in this instance we have talked about the
detailed money that we collect from the industry which we can
Q1216 Lord Inglewood: Presumably,
such is the world that, looking forward, funding is going to get
tighter rather than easier. Are you worried?
Ms Caine: Yes, on two counts. To go back to
the industry and TV, we are worried. It is very interesting, if
you look at economy-wide reports that the UK Commission for Employment
Skills have produced, they demonstrate that businesses which invest
in the skills and talent of their people during a recession are
2.5 times more likely to grow and be healthy coming out of recession.
That is the first thing. The second thing is that it would seem,
talking to other sector skills councils, that in this recession
some sectors are maintaining their investment in their redress
to skills because they see it as important to what I have just
talked about, and other sectors are finding it challenging. I
would say that certainly our experience in this sector at the
moment is that that perhaps is the case. If you look at TV, obviously
you can take investment in ourselves as one of the indicators.
It is obviously not the only one. I think that across the board
you will find that broadcasters have over the past two years all
cut their investment in training and skills. If you look at our
figures and the money that we receive then obviously ITV has now
cut us and the National Film and Television School. We have 100,000
transition on core funding in this financial year, but I also
want to highlight the independent production sector because, thus
far this year, they have only been able to commit about 20 per
cent of what they normally provide. Also, I would point to the
fact that in TV the biggest barriers are for freelancers and I
think that is very interesting when you start to look at the breakdown
in freelance use across the industry, because the independent
production sector utilise that 57 per cent of its workforce as
freelance compared to 26 per cent for the large broadcasters.
We knowand I will not bore you with the statistics but
we can provide themthat there are all sorts of barriers
for freelancers, including employers investing in their training.
When you look at the investment by employers in segments, then
in 2008 in terms of our workforce certainly, although we cannot
say in what area, 78 per cent of broadcast TV employees have received
some training, and it is only 36 per cent in the independent production
sector. That is quite a big difference.
Q1217 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
Just picking up on what you were saying about the contribution
made by broadcasters, is that largely by the free-to-air broadcasters?
Ms Caine: Yes. We have some contributions to
the freelance ones, £60,000 from Sky and the small cable
and satellite companies it is £1,000 basically per channel,
with a ceiling of five channels, but overall they probably contribute
then about 150,000 a year.
Ms O'Connor: Yes, that is the maximum.
Q1218 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
ITV is not contributing anything, is that right?
Ms Caine: No, as of this year. I think it is
very interesting with ITV because, given that particularly recently
it has obviously recognised that commoditising Britain's talent
has a real way of delivering value, it seems to not be addressing
investing in the industry's talent in the same way.
Q1219 Lord Inglewood: Taken in the
round, just standing back from the immediate problems you are
facing, does the industry as a whole pull its weight financially
in respect of training?
Ms Caine: I would say it is a spiky profile.
Some companies like the BBC invest heavily and continue to do
so, but then of course they have specific obligations under the
PSB. As a sector, I have to say that we are blessed in one way
with attracting, if you like, the brightest and best, but also
sometimes the oversupply of those people wanting to work in the
industry can lead to a certain sense of complacency around the
amount of active effort, investment and focus that needs to be
made in terms of preparing us to maximise our potential in terms
of the future.
Q1220 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
You were talking earlier on, Kate, about how there were particular
skills shortages in the special effects area, which I thought
we were not so long ago pre-eminent in. Why have these shortages
come about? What has changed?
Ms O'Connor: In some ways we are victims of
our own success here. We are seen as global leaders in our visual
special effects and post-production facilities and we win lots
of contracts in terms of that work, and therefore we need quite
quickly, the top four companies particularly, to bring in vast
teams of people to work on these quite complex movies and with
very specific skills. That is when they need to pull in numbers
at any one point and then obviously let them go when they are
not working in a particular movie.
Q1221 Chairman: They would be freelance
Ms O'Connor: They would be freelance or on short-term
contracts. We are making sure those skills are feeding through
our higher education specialist school, our screen academy and
media academy network.
Q1222 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
You have talked a lot about higher education. What about at school?
We have the games industry and they said if only they would tell
girls and boys that if you learn maths you could make video games.
Ms Caine: Yes, absolutely.
Ms O'Connor: We are working on that agenda as
well. Most definitely. There are certain things that we can influence
directly, like we worked very hard to create this new creative
media diploma, the new alternative to GCSEs and A levels that
has been on offer this year, and that includes strands for animation,
computer games development, and builds in science and traditional
subjects with the more arts based subjects. Really importantly,
we are keen, but there is a blockage in the system, to get that
careers information through the schools, about the range of careers
and the kinds of skills people might need, because it is not all
about presenting, it is not all about the creative side. We need
to make sure that people understand the business context and some
of those science backgrounds.
Q1223 Lord Maxton: Do you get any
funding from the games industry?
Ms O'Connor: No, we do not. No direct funding.
Q1224 Lord Maxton: Even though they
must benefit from what you do.
Ms O'Connor: They do not contribute to our core
costs and we do not have a similar fund in the same way that we
did for film and television.
Q1225 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
We have had evidence from Mr Fellner about the lack of business
Ms O'Connor: Yes.
Q1226 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
Is there anything we can learn from abroad about doing better
at developing business skills?
Ms O'Connor: Yes. I am sure there are examples
of some courses that build in that business context and some approaches
to training that build in the business context in a far more integrated
way than we are doing. But going back to film, the question was
about the contribution to the industry and support from the industry.
I think the film industry has shown incredible foresight to get
involved in this five-year strategy and the move to supporting
a mandatory levy I think is the ultimate demonstration of their
commitment to skills into the future. On business skills, we had
identified this as a real need of the film industry five years
ago and we established a business academy which was set out to
be one of the world leading examples of how to address business
skills training for the film industry, and that is something we
are still working on getting right. But we at that time and still
are probably leading the way in having a very big focus in film
business training on TV
Q1227 Chairman: Is that Mr Terry
Ms Caine: Yes.
Q1228 Chairman: We are seeing him
Ms O'Connor: Okay. Stewart Till was very much
the architect of that programme at the time and the establishment
of the film business academy a priority for our film industry.
I think that is something we do need to do more of in the TV industry.
That is critical now. I think the Digital Britain report
highlights just how important it is to equip everyone in the industry
and all the people who are intending to come into it with that
business context and that ability to think about monetising creative
content and ways to do that.
Q1229 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
It seems to me the training area is quite remarkable and perhaps
unnecessarily complicated, with large numbers of people jockeying
for receipts of public funds. In 2005, only four years ago, you
say that you, together with the broadcast industry and Ofcom,
set up the Broadcast, Training and Skills Regulator and yetand
I do not mean this unkindlyyou now say there is a degree
of confusion as to respective roles. With the benefit of hindsight,
would you have like it to have been set up differently?
Ms Caine: At the time, Joyce Taylor, who now
sits on the Ofcom Content Board, had worked with us and the industry,
and DCMS at Tessa Jowell's request, to make recommendations to
Ofcom as to how to manage its responsibilities in terms of training
going forward. The recommendation that was made was that there
should be co-regulation between Ofcom and Skillset. However, at
that stage Ofcom had just launched the Advertising Standards Authority
and had particular rules. It has particular rules which it applies
to co-regulation which means you have to set up these third-party
bodies. I think some people observed that, given that training
and skills is a complex area, not as high up the industry's agenda
as perhaps as we would like, it perhaps becomes quite crowded
and, also, as we said in our evidence, what has become clear during
the course of this last year is that, for example, the clauses
in the Act Ofcom now understand to not cover the freelance issue,
which, as I indicated before, is one of the most challenging in
terms of addressing.
Q1230 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Before I move in to a rather more specific question, perhaps I
could follow up the point that Lady Bonham-Carer has been making
earlier, particularly about contact with schools and the need
for much more creativity coming out into your industry. Do you
do any of this directly with schools or do you do it at second
hand through helping design courses? Might there be a case for
doing it a little bit more visibly yourselves?
Ms O'Connor: We do not do it directly. We are
not funded or resourced to do it directly. Until quite recently,
officially we did not have a particularly strong role or remit
for the pre-19 school-based education policy at all. It is only
since the development of the new creative and media diplomas and
industry-facing diplomas that we have had a role to inform what
happens on courses, but no funding of resources to do direct work
to engage the industry with schools. Having said that, and again
on film, there are a number of agencies who do lots of good work
with schools and we are involved with all of those bodies to help
support their work. Media Box, with government funding, gives
grants to disadvantaged young people so that they can develop
their skills in radio or TV or computer game or whatever medium
they want to explore, and there are organisations like First Light,
and obviously there is the British Film Institute, and Film Education
and Film Club, all of whom have the role and remit and money to
have direct involvement on film education, but those kinds of
arrangements do not particularly exist directly for the other
sectors for which we are responsible. It is a gap in terms of
our funding and ability to be able to do that.
Ms Caine: In terms of the 14-19 diploma, we
have engaged numbers of TV employers in terms of helping support
implementation, including providing lots of work-related learning
materials online and so forth. BBC Blast, for example, has done
a lot to help roll this one out. We have tried to make information
about the industry available to the careers advisors, but the
difficulty, if we just talk about England, is that there is not
an all-age careers service at the moment. It is very fractured
and it makes, as it were, the sharing of information coherently
to all those constituencies quite challenging.
Q1231 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Thank you very much. Moving on to more specifically, what really
more could be done to support the supply and development of these
relevant skills? I am thinking now about where the responsibility
for this lies, whether it is with policymakers or where. Referring
a little bit to our visit to Pinewood the other day, where we
saw and heard that apprenticeships were really working in and
going to be clearly a very attractive remit for young people if
sold correctly. Having said that, the film industry itself, as
opposed to the relevant practical skills, did not seem quite as
involved as they might be in the actual apprenticeships. Is this
an area that needs developing? Is this not one of the areas that
might be made more attractive, particularly to girls, going back
to that point about ICT and the lack of girls going into that
industry? Do you have views on that for those industries?
Ms Caine: In terms of the overall answer to
the question, perhaps we could come back to you on Digital
Britain, our submission to that and the recommendations that
have come out of it specifically in terms of apprenticeships.
Absolutely, I think right across the film and TV industries, there
is more that we can do and should be doing to engage people in
that being the route. Kate, perhaps you could talk about film
and then I will talk about TV.
Ms O'Connor: Yes. I am sorry that we are doing
this sector-specific approach to answering your questions, but
that is how we work with the industry. With film, I absolutely
agree with you that there is huge scope for apprenticeships in
the film industry, but because of the nature of employment in
the film industry people are not employed for long periods. There
does need to be this brokerage system, so that we can work with
training providersin this case the screen academy that
we have that specialises in craft and technical trainingto
help organise those apprentices and place the apprentices on productions
and then provide the off-the-job training when they are not working
and back in college. We have spent a lot of time trying to get
the model right and we are definitely convinced that it can be
expanded, but sometimes our numbers are tiny compared to other
industries. For example, the wider construction industry will
have thousands of apprentices, and economies of scale make sense
with government funding. Ours are smallwe might be talking
about a couple of dozen apprentices in Pinewood at any one timeand
so funding to help support those brokerage arrangements, where
it is critical to have someone organising those kinds of apprenticeships,
does not exist very easily from government sources. That is where
we are now, working with the industry and these training providers
to put the key components together.
Q1232 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Given the apprenticeship side has money in this sort of area,
surely more could be done with that.
Ms O'Connor: Yes.
Q1233 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
As combined with industry.
Ms O'Connor: Definitely. The one thing to remember,
though, with apprenticeships from our point of viewand
government funding is available and is a huge priorityis
that funding at the moment is available only to those who do not
already have a degree or a Level 3/4 qualification, so you are
talking about apprenticeship funding being available really for
16-21 year olds with maybe GCSEs and probably not A-level type
equivalent qualification. There are very few grades in the industry
where that is the typical age profile or that is the typical qualification
profile coming in. The grades where it is suitablethe set
crafts, make-up and costume, some of our other craft and technical
areasit tends not to be the answer for the industry as
a whole because we tend to recruit at graduate level which is
where the Digital Britain areas come in.
Ms Caine: Exactly. Also, to pick up on TV, which
is linked to my previous answer: as Kate says, there is a tendency
to recruit people with higher education qualifications, which
immediately rules out the normal old-style apprenticeship recruits.
So that is a cultural thing, because when you look at it, a lot
of roles in the industry do not need that and they could be definitely
open to apprenticeships. In TV at the moment we are looking at
how we can really work with employers to define what would be
seen as "killer skills"you know: "What would
you really want young people to have skills in that would make
a big difference to you?" Metadata management, at the moment,
is one of those. We are trying to look at developing a digital
media apprenticeship which embodies some of those things that
people really want and need now, and hopefully, using that to
help pilot and to get the industry to see that they do not always
have to recruit at HE level.
Q1234 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
A lot of small companies would insist that the best form of training
is on-the-job training.
Ms Caine: Yes.
Q1235 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
How far do you go in providing a degree of accreditation for these
almost informal training schemes?
Ms O'Connor: We are looking at exactly that
now. The rules of accreditation and qualifications as part of
work have been relaxed, and so we are really exploiting that to
look at ways in which we can accredit on-the-job training.
Q1236 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Coming back to this business of current powers, I rather get the
impression that you wish you had powers to make sure that people
volunteer to contribute!
Ms Caine: I think we would like people to recognise
that investing makes sense.
Q1237 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Yes, I follow that, but you do say that the powers are not sufficient
to ensure meaningful dialogue. That sounds to me like "to
ensure that they do start contributing". It is a problem,
Ms Caine: Yes. Perhaps it would be good to ask
Ofcom and BTSR some of these questions.
Q1238 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Ms Caine: I think that perhaps what we thought
the Act said and what they now feel the Act says are slightly
Q1239 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
Just talk us through a bit more your reflections on the role of
the BBC as the primary trainer/skills provider. They are your
largest cash contributor.
Ms Caine: Yes.
Q1240 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
Some might possibly argue that if the BBC was not putting cash
into organisations like yourselves it could do a much more enhanced
job. It has the internal capacity for skills development apprenticeships
and training internally. How do you respond to that?
Ms Caine: I think under the Charter and the
Framework Agreement, the latest one, it is very clear that the
BBC has been given responsibilities to support its own workforce
butto use Tessa Jowell's term of "creative venture
capital"to take it to its privileged position, if
you like, to ensure that it invests and works with the rest of
the industry on these issues. The second thing is obviously the
WOCC. Now that up to 50 per cent of their commissioning comes
from the independent production sector, and they are therefore
relying quite heavily on the supply chain, also demonstrates that
in terms of their own business interests they need to be looking
at practices outwith their own and potentially learning from those
but also supporting schemes which provide industry-wide solutions.
I think the days of the BBC, if you like, creating fortress BBC
are long gone. It is a new business environment, it is a new industrial
model. They recognise that, they are willingly embracing it, and
they are working very effectively with us and the rest of the
Q1241 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
Could you give us some examples of how you have you been working
with the BBC on extending the reach of their skills
Ms Caine: I know Peter Salmon came and gave
evidence. One key area at the moment is the BBC move to the North.
We are working as Skillset North and we have brought together
the three Regional Development Agencies, the three Regional Screen
Agencies and the industryall of it, from computer games,
interactive, through to advertising, film, TV. In the North, we
have a very senior industry committee led by Tom Gutteridge from
Standing Stone. That is working and has achieved co-ordinated
investment, but it is working with the BBC to look at how, as
it were, we can ensure that once they have identified who is going
to move and who is not, there is local talent and skills available
to meet their needs. Also, obviously that move should be, and
is, I think, creating greater opportunities in other sectors in
the North, so that we are also using it to try to ensure that
the skills are there for those other sectors.
Q1242 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
Is your impression that the BBC is being as diligent in investment
in its own training for the North as it has been in the South?
Ms Caine: It is absolutely a key priority. The
partnerships that they have built for training and education providers
in the North, and particularly the partnerships that they have
developed, as it were, working through us, I think are a real
priority for Peter and his team, yes.
Ms O'Connor: Linking one of the previous questions
on apprenticeships with the work the BBC have been doing, they
have been a catalyst for saying let us take this issue of recruiting
non-graduates and train them up under the Government's apprenticeship
formal scheme and offer formal qualifications. They really are
leading the way in that and helping us develop our approaches
so that they might be models that we can scale out to the rest
of the industry. Although the example of their work started in
the North West and increasingly across the rest of the North of
England, they are now working very hard with us to prepare schemes
in and around the Olympics and to support apprenticeship training
generally and to be real ambassadors for that kind of approach.
Q1243 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
You are seeing no slippage in the BBC investment?
Ms Caine: Not as yet.
Q1244 Lord Maxton: Mark Thompsonand
I only heard a snippet on the radiowas expressing grave
concern about the whole top slicing. Do you think, if the BBC
felt their funding was being threatened, that training might be
an area they would look at?
Ms Caine: I know that in the debate around the
money for digital switchover, and what will happen to it or not
happen to it subsequently, that training was one of the areas
that Mark identified as being something that that money could
be used to further enhance. I do not expect that to have an impact
in terms of their current investment and commitment.
Q1245 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Is it not right to say that you would like PSB status to involve
a commitment to training?
Ms Caine: Absolutely right. That is where we
are pleased with what Digital Britain has said, because,
in a sense, as I say, the BBC Charter strengthened the BBC's commitment
to training and training across the industry precisely because
of that level of PSB commitment in the licence fee. Digital
Britain has now restated that. It has restated its believe
that PSB broadcasters should be committed to skills and talent
and has also identified Channel 4 as needing to develop its activities
in this area and the Government will be bringing Channel 4 and
Skillset together to look, in the light of the revised focus it
has, at that issue.
Q1246 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
To move on to the area of new skills, new technologies, 3D, whatever
the next phase happens to be, and you talked about the US being
the dominant training provider and investor worldwide, how are
you keeping in front of the game? Where do you get your research
Ms Caine: We were talking about the US being
the major inward investor in the film industry rather than
Q1247 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
Taking new technology as a whole, how are you getting an enhanced
picture on new technologies for training?
Ms Caine: It is quite challenging, I have to
say. In terms of the questions you have asked about future gazing,
it is not really in the DNA of business in this country as much
as it is in other countries to do that as a regular exercise.
Q1248 Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick:
It is so intrinsic to this business, is it not?
Ms Caine: It is so intrinsic to this business.
So we do, and obviously in every area in which we work we bring
together leaders from the businesses, and it is to them that we
turn to ask for their informed position, but we also obviously
have connections across, with Ofcom and the research departments
there and the research departments at the BBC. So we are networked
into the various research bodies and then seek to do our best
with our original soundings as well as then quite often willingly
giving us their information to achieve the best picture we can,
but I do think we have things to learn there internationally and
I do think there are things we need to do to improve our ability
to do that.
Ms O'Connor: We have a relatively small research
team and, although we are starting a futures research programme
this year to collect that information systematically, we clearly
need that international benchmark. We need not just to be talking
to the key players in the UK but analysing this on a world basis.
Q1249 Lord Maxton: How closely were
you involved with the team doing the Digital Britain report?
Are you reasonably content with what it proposes? Is there something
else you want to recommend? What would you recommend?
Ms Caine: Yes, we were very intimately involved
with the Digital Britain team. When the interim report
came out, the chapter on skills, I think Stephen Carter would
absolutely recognise, was one of the least well-informed and therefore
he commissioned ourselves and e-skills, the sector skills council
for the IT industry, to produce a report. We duly did, and we
are happy to make that available to you, and the Digital Britain
report basically says that government has accepted that analysis,
has accepted the recommendations that we made, which we are very
pleased with. Those recommendations covered both talent pipeline
and, as we were saying before, the need to move and invest in
graduates coming into the industry, as well as new business modelling
and so forth, and the setting up of digital hubs for cross- disciplinary
work. That is greatthe analysis accepted, the recommendations
accepted. The difficulty we always come back to is investment,
because although Digital Britain is the first example of
both industrial and skills activism, new jobs, new futuresor
new futures, new jobsand I cannot remember which way round
it iswhere the sector's needs are supposed to come first,
the evidence we submitted to Digital Britain also commented
on skills policy. Skills policy and public funding are currently
very tied to PSA targets which are focused on the delivery and
support of low level skills. We were saying that, in high growth
sectors, there should be incentivisation and support for high
level skills, that, as it were, all sectors, all regions, all
nations should not necessarily march to the beat of the same drum
but should be allowed to march to the beat of different drums
depending on the areas of need. That of course is the bit that
has not really been acted on, because I think in terms of DES
(now BIS) they are overspent on most of their budgets.
Ms O'Connor: In a nutshell, we have been arguing
for apprenticeships, yes, but also graduate apprenticeships. We
have argued for on-the-job training schemes that look at the issue
of diversity and just what qualifications people have before they
arrive at those schemes. We have argued for specialist postgraduate
funding: not in large volume, really targeted, high level world-class
postgraduate programmes that need to be supported. All of that
has found its way into the Digital Britain report and was
understood by the writers and Lord Carter, as Dinah said, but
we are concerned that it will not find its way into public policy
or funding decisions unless it is really pushed now.
Ms Caine: The Higher Education Framework which
comes out at the beginning of July is a key policy document that
relates to a lot of the recommendations that we made, so we will
have to see what the outcome of that is. In summation, that is
the public funding side of things. Obviously, also, we have discussed
the industry's responsibility to invest in the future and the
Q1250 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
You were talking about how the BBC has been very good about apprenticeships,
but the evidence we received last week was that their internal
traineeship schemes have been cut back. There is no post-production
membership scheme any more. Is that not a rather negative step?
Ms Caine: It is very interesting because in
the run-up to the Charter and so forthI cannot remember
which one it wasthe BBC's Green Paper of response, there
was a commitment there that the BBC would not cut its investment
in training. At that stage it invested about £57 million
a year. I think if you were to ask them now you may find that
it had reduced from that figure.
Q1251 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
A very quick and I hope not too parochial point. Were there to
be an ITB would we not be in a rather strange position that they
had the power to introduce a levy only in England and Wales and
Scotland would remain a voluntary levy under Skillset?
Ms Caine: Yes, it is a strange position and
it is all to do with devolution because at that point nobody ever
thought about the ITB Act so the position we were inand
it was looked at at every level in Scotlandwas that potentially
the only way through was for the Scottish Parliament to agree
to hand that power back, and the view was that actually ITB probably
was not the best thing to have that very first debate on in terms
of handing any power back to England.
Q1252 Chairman: I think we might
write to you about the employment figures because one of the things
which is rather puzzling is getting accurate employment figures
in this industry.
Ms Caine: We do have them.
Q1253 Chairman: Just one very last
point on security of employment. Both in films and to a lesser
extent in television, but still to a very substantial extent,
freelance working is the norm. Is it possible to think in terms
of more secure working and a more secure future? Is it a deterrent
to people actually joining the industries in the first place?
Ms Caine: In terms of TV, given the current
economic climate and in terms of the levels of redundancies that
are taking place and the reshaping of the industry that is taking
place, whether or not it would be preferable to have more security,
I do not see that happening. That is the first thing. The second
thing is whether it is a deterrent. Increasinglyand I think
that particularly in times of recessionthe precariousness
of employment in an environment where people are now much more
inherently cautious will be something that they do take into account.
It is no surprise if you look at the statistics on women in the
industry that most of them disappear after about 40.
Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury: Before that.
When they have their first child usually.
Ms Caine: If you are wanting to attract the
brightest and the best then it is not necessarily the most attractive
way of employing people.
Chairman: You have been very good and given
us some very excellent evidence. I think there are quite a number
of things that we will want to follow up with you on that, but
thank you very much for coming this morning.