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The fight against the U.K.’s critical skills shortage — one that experts have said threatens to impact the ongoing growth of its film and TV industry — is getting a shot in the arm thanks to new funding initiative from the British Film Institute.
The BFI unveiled on Wednesday that it will dedicate £9.6 million ($12 million) of funding from the U.K.’s National Lottery over three years to support skills development and training, a move made in response to the BFI’s own Skills Review in 2022 that said an additional 20,770 full-time employees were needed in the sector by 2025, and calls for greater accessibility and representation.
Of the $12 million, $10 million is being divided across the U.K. to six so-called BFI Skills Clusters, through which partners will identity skills shortages and coordinate training opportunities for below-the-line production crew, while also helping people — especially those from underrepresented backgrounds — find viable routes into the screen industry.
Meanwhile, $2 million has been delegated to ScreenSkills, the not-for-profit screen career development organization, for a Skills Bursary Fund to provide direct financial support to help new entrants and those already working behind the camera in the screen industry to access new training, skills and professional development opportunities.
“We seek to effect positive change across the screen sector through our National Lottery funding, but also by evidence-led policy – such as the BFI Skills Review – and working closely with industry and government,” said Harriet Finney, deputy CEO of the BFI. “Evidence gathered and analysis conducted through the Review concluded that radical change is needed to address current skills shortages and to retain and train those already working in the sector.”
To oversee the BFI’s new skills activity, former ScreenSkills exec Sara Whybrew has been named Head of National Lottery Skills Programmes, a new role focused on ensuring that the Institute’s work is joined-up and aligned with industry needs.
The funding news comes following the recent announcement of the industry-led Skills Task Force aimed at addressing the labor shortages in the industry and chaired by Georgia Brown, formerly head of European Originals for Amazon Studios.
In its Skills Review from June 2022, the BFI urged the screen sector to “invest 1 percent of all production budgets into training.”
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