Report: Big dip in U.K. media jobs


LONDON -- The number of people employed in the terrestrial television sector here plummeted in the last two years, according to a report published Tuesday by U.K. government-backed training organization Skillset.

But it wasn't all bad news for those seeking gainful employment in the audiovisual industries, as levels of employment rose in the cable and satellite sector, the report indicates.

The results of Skillset's biennial "Employment Census" of the audiovisual industries show that terrestrial TV now employs almost 3,000 fewer people than in 2004, with a workforce of just under 21,000. The drop is partly attributed to job cuts at pubcaster the BBC and commercial broadcasting giant ITV, the report says.

Meanwhile, the smaller cable and satellite sector has doubled since the last survey to more than 13,000 people, Skillset said. The fresh jobs created are mainly acquisitions, sales and legal roles as opposed to traditional production posts, the research notes.

The census also recorded a small employment drop in interactive media, the largest sector surveyed, employing more than 48,000, which saw a decrease of nearly 5,000 in the Web-based workforce.

This decrease can likely be attributed to a swell of in-house roles across all U.K. industries, which has resulted in less business for specialist agencies. Overall, the sector remains one of the healthiest, Skillset said.

More than 2,500 companies took part in Skillset's one day census snapshot held July 12. The snapshot surveyed employers across the television, radio, animation, facilities, interactive media, commercials, corporate production and all film sectors apart from production.

The results also highlight low levels of diversity in the workforce, with representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people relatively unchanged since 1999.

Said John McVay, chief executive of producers' trade body Pact: "With production output decreasing at the broadcasters, more freelancers are now working in the independent sector and investing in their training and development via Skillset should remain a continuing priority for the whole industry."

The overall representation of women remained unchanged at 38%, the survey said ,with terrestrial TV posting the highest proportion of women at 50%.

Representation of ethnic minorities has increased slightly to 7.4%, from 7% in 2004. By comparison, 7% of the population of working age in the U.K. as a whole are ethnic minorities.

Said Cultural Diversity Network founder Clive Jones: "It's clear from Skillset's research that the industry needs to step up a gear in its efforts to employ a diverse workforce."