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INDUSTRY UK

BFI invests £20 million in skills training

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- Ambitious programme aims to plug yawning diversity gap

BFI invests £20 million in skills training

The Work Foundation’s ‘A Skills Audit of the UK Film and Screen Industries’ compiled for the British Film Institute (BFI) has found that “The industry workforce does not reflect the diversity of the UK. In production, only 3% of employees are from a minority ethnic background, compared to 12.5% nationally; at strategic management level, ethnic diversity is even poorer across the value chain.” Further, the report states: “The industry is not gender balanced, especially at more senior levels. Only one in five key production personnel working in the UK in 2015 were women. Women across the screen industries also receive on average £3,000 less than their male counterparts.”

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In order to address these lacunae and several other issues in an industry that is worth £4.3 billion to the UK economy, the BFI has launched the £20 million ‘Future Film Skills - An Action Plan’, a nationwide call to the screen industries and education sector to support the new plan and for people with transferable skills and young people – especially those from under-represented groups, to join a booming industry, film, high-end television, animation, VR and interactive media, that is recognised the world over for its highly skilled workforce and state of the art facilities. The fund will be disbursed over five years from 2017 to 2022.

The BFI has prepared a 10-point action plan that includes setting up a trusted and reliable careers information service; an accreditation system to guarantee employer confidence; a suite of new Apprenticeship Standards; a Skills Forecasting Service; embedding the BFI Film Academy into the skills pipeline; a mentoring service to break down barriers for new entrants and returnees; setting up Centres of Excellence for screen-related craft and technical skills; a bursary programme to ensure wide participation; professional development courses to maintain world-class skills; and to mobilise the industry through a number of schemes and campaigns including creating a database to match individuals with local needs. 

The scheme is supported by James Bond franchise provider Barbara Broccoli and Lucasfilm. Broccoli said, “We live in a diverse society and it is vital both culturally and commercially that our industry reflects this in front of and behind the camera.  With industry, education and government uniting behind this new Film Skills Strategy and 10 Point Action Plan we know we will be able to increase the number of people working in film and ensure we have a representative workforce.”

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said, “This initiative is meaningful for both Lucasfilm and the film industry at large. Diversity is just as important behind the scenes as it is on the screen. More points of view, more perspectives, and more voices will only make films better.”

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