Empowering the Freelance Economy

Do you want a future in Reality TV? This New skills fund could help

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Screenskills has launched a new Unscripted TV Skills Fund to address skills gaps and shortages in the UK, Bectu has reported. The Fund will invest matched contributions from broadcasters and productions to address skills shortages, and those on board for launch are BBC, Channel 4, Pact, Sky, A+E Networks UK, Discovery UK and BBC Studios.

Contributions to ScreenSkills for investment in training for roles in unscripted television have fallen in recent years in comparison with parts of the screen industries that benefit from tax relief, such as high-end TV. The new fund could raise in the region of £3 million a year by 2024 against contributions of around £370,000 to the existing TV Skills Fund. 

What do I need to know about the Unscripted TV Skills Fund?

  • ScreenSkills is inviting experienced industry professionals who are interested in representing their genre or nation or region as part of the new Unscripted TV Skills Fund governance to contact them by 30 April 2021 in the first instance. Appointments to the council and working groups will be made to ensure a diversity of representation
  • will address skills gaps and shortages in unscripted television across the UK
  • will build a bigger pool of off-screen crew and talent in the nations and regions, build a more inclusive workforce and future-proof the industry
  • matches investment from contributing broadcasters and production companies in a pan-industry collaboration to address acknowledged problems
  • goes live on 1 June for commissions contracted after that date
  • investment decisions will be made by practitioners who understand what is needed
  • should see a significant increase in funding from £370,000 to c £3 million in three years.

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu and Screenskills board member, said that Bectu members in unscripted TV regularly tell the creative workers union that there are gaps in training provision in the industry.

“It is really positive to see Screenskills and broadcasters respond to mounting calls for change by announcing this investment in a new Unscripted TV Skills Fund,” said Childs.

“If anyone requires evidence that such a fund is necessary, they need look no further than a recent Bectu, Viva La PD and Bournemouth University survey of 1,200 TV freelancers which found that a staggering 70% of respondents with management responsibilities had not received adequate training in the practical and legal aspects of managing people.

“The focus on building an inclusive workforce is also extremely welcome. The same Bectu survey found that 73% of respondents feel that recruitment practices in TV are unfair, and we know that diversity remains a problem in the industry.”

According to Seetha Kumar, CEO, ScreenSkills, the new Unscripted TV Skills Fund sees the industry acting collectively and strategically to address acknowledged skills shortages and to achieve access, and effective progression of an inclusive workforce.

“This is the right thing to do if we are to walk the walk on equal access for crew and talent to support production in all parts of the UK and maintain the standards of excellence for which we are world-renowned,” said Kumar.

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Screenskills Freelance Toolkit

Around half of the people working in film and TV in the UK are self-employed. Even if you don’t start your career freelancing, you might take on extra work in your spare time alongside your main job and make the jump when you are established within your sector. This toolkit is designed to introduce you to the basics of freelancing in the screen industries. If you would prefer to download this content, go to: Freelance Toolkit (PDF)

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