Belfast Telegraph

Lack of diversity in UK film industry is leading to skills shortage, review finds

The industry needs 10,000 new entrants to fill the jobs, research has found.

Star Wars boss Kathleen Kennedy and James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli have called for more diversity in the UK film industry as research found there is a “pandemic lack of inclusion” in the business.

This is contributing to a serious skills shortage that will require 10,000 people to enter the film industry over the next five years to maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global movie production and help fill the 30,000 job opportunities estimated to come up, according to the Work Foundation.

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Producer Kathleen Kennedy attending a special screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in London last year (Ian West/PA Wire)

However, a culture of nepotism, unpaid work experience and a lack of appropriate training is stopping people joining the ranks, with the obstacles even more pronounced for minority groups, it is claimed.

While thousands of young people are studying for film-related qualifications, few are training for the jobs required, leading to skill shortages in nearly 40 occupations – including first assistant directors, costume designers, carpenters, production accountants and 3D model makers, research found.

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(left to right) Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli and Sam Mendes at the revealing of the new James Bond film at pinewood Studio in Buckinghamshirein 2014 (PA Archive)

The review from the Work Foundation, commissioned by the BFI, showed that the film workforce comprises of 12% from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, 5% have a disability – and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees make up just 3% of the production and post-production workforce.

Women make up 40% of the workforce and earn on average £3,000 less than male counterparts.

Heather Carey, associate consultant at the Work Foundation, told a press briefing: “Learners genuinely lack an awareness that there are opportunities for them in the screen industries.

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Culture Secretary Karen Bradley arrives at 10 Downing Street in London for a Cabinet meeting (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“We found, having looked at demand and supply, that the progression into work is not an easy one.

“There is a culture of nepotism, the majority of employers recruit through word of mouth, and that creates real barriers for people who don’t know people.

“Then there is real challenge of unpaid work experience, no wonder that acts as an obstacle, particularly for those without financial means.

“Those obstacles are more pronounced for minority groups, but they face additional barriers. Through our process of consultation we found examples of discrimination in the workplace.

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Amanda Nevill attending the Film Is GREAT Reception at the Fig and Olive in Los Angeles (Ian West/PA Archive)

“When we try to get below the surface there are huge obstacles and those obstacles are creating a  pandemic lack of inclusion in this industry.”

The British Film Institute (BFI)  is now taking vigorous action to address the lack of representation by helping thousands of people gain skills and access to the jobs.

Broccoli, who has chaired the Film Skills Industry Task Force, joined Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, BFI Chair Josh Berger and BFI CEO Amanda Nevill at the House of Commons to launch a 10-point action plan to tackle the issue.

The plan, which will be boosted by £20 million of National Lottery investment between 2017 and 2022, includes the creation of a reliable online career information service, an accreditation system to guarantee employer confidence and a mentoring service.

It will also include new apprenticeship standards, a service to forecast industry needs and a bursary programme to ensure diverse participation.

The strategy has been backed by Star Wars production company Lucasfilm, which has pioneered a pilot programme with the BFI to place 28 paid trainees in craft and technical roles on the new Han Solo movie, which is currently in production.

Nevill said: “We are on the cusp of a huge opportunity to bring thousands more into this dynamic industry where there is a genuine need for more skilled workers – from hairdressers to accountants, software developers to model makers.

“They also need to learn and develop their skills from the best, so we call upon everyone in the industry to help us make this a reality. This is not a ‘nice to have’ but an ‘urgent must’ if we are to achieve the growth potential for UK film that is in front of us.”

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