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New research finds significant gap in careers advice for screen industries

Jun 29, 2022

  • 93% of careers teams surveyed say they receive requests for careers guidance in the screen industries, however majority feel ill equipped to provide accurate guidance
  • Increased collaboration between education and industry will enable careers professionals to excite and inspire young people and identify career pathways
  • Commissioned by the BFI, research carried out by careers platform ERIC

Findings contribute to BFI’s soon to be published Skills Review

The BFI and ERIC, a careers platform for young people, today publishes What’s Stopping Young People from Pursuing Careers in the Screen Industries?, a new report highlighting the significant knowledge gap 13-16 year olds have in understanding the careers available in the screen industries. This issue is further compounded as the majority of careers teams and advisers do not feel equipped to provide up to date information and guidance on career opportunities, or pathways into the screen industries.

Alongside alarming stats on the lack of understanding of entry routes into the industry (83% of young people surveyed said they weren’t aware of screen industry’s guidance being available at their school) and outdated misconceptions on the scope of careers available (70% of careers teams surveyed thought it was very hard to get jobs in film and TV), there are hugely encouraging figures on young people’s level of interest in the sector. Two thirds of the young people stated they want to hear more about careers in the Screen Industries, while 93% of career teams reported they receive requests for careers guidance about the screen industries, making it one of the top five sectors they felt they needed more information about.

The report targeted 13-16 year olds, which is the age when young people are making foundational decisions about their future careers. They are choosing subjects for GCSEs and beyond, and is the period they are encouraged to think more seriously about what they will do when they leave school – be that seeking part or full time work, further training or apprenticeships, or by selecting courses within further and higher education. This is also largely the age when young people engage meaningfully with career professionals for the first time.

Production spend on film and high-end television in the UK reached record levels in 2021 at £5.64 billion. Rapid growth in the industry is contributing to a shortage of crew, and therefore stronger pathways and routes into the sector for young people and new entrants are needed to help meet demand.

Leigh Adams, director of education and learning at the BFI, said: “There are some troubling and disappointing figures in this report, but also some tangible solutions. It is obvious that current approaches are not engaging or informing young people effectively and I look forward to finding new ways to help strengthen the provision of screen industries career guidance in schools through stronger links with careers professionals, schools, and industry. We know new entrants alone are not going to solve the skills shortage, but the future pipeline is vital. In reaching out to large numbers of UK schools through career hubs, leaders and advisers, we can connect with a hugely diverse group of young people who are currently underrepresented in the industry, and inspire them with the extensive variety of opportunities the screen industries has to offer.”

Samantha Hornsby, co-founder of ERIC, said: ”It’s obvious that the lack of available information about how the Screen Industries have grown and changed dramatically in the last 20 years has meant perceptions of Screen careers are decades out of date. However, it’s exciting that our research shows a majority are keen to learn more about careers in the Screen Industries! So it’s a simple matter of putting funding and time into supplying that demand and providing updated information. The Screen Industries will be able to future-proof its workforce by following our recommendations in the report.”

Improving the careers guidance offer in schools has the potential to ensure a much wider pool of young people – from all backgrounds and from across the whole of the UK – can confidently consider a career in the screen industries. Given the level of production activity, which is expanding to production hubs across the UK’s regions and nations, this can genuinely result in viable, secure and rewarding careers.

Headline recommendations in the report are to start as early as possible; be visible; provide up-to-date information and tools; use social media; and build relationships with key touchpoints.

Broadly, the report calls on industry to take a more active role in engaging young people with the sector, through closer and strong links with education and careers guidance providers. Learning lessons from other sections such as science and pharmaceuticals, accountancy, banking and finance, which young people say they feel well-informed about, the screen industries should increase their outreach to schools, to ensure current and accurate information of job roles and pathways are available.

The sector offers a huge range of job opportunities, which is largely a mystery to young people, so they require information on direct routes in, and also what further and higher education options will support a career in the sector.

The report also pinpoints where young people are seeking online careers guidance outside of an education context, confirming social media platforms feature on their top sources of information online, with TikTok and YouTube identified as the most popular with the surveyed group. The report suggests this presents an opportunity for the screen industries to create engaging, content for these platform, to reach young people directly in order to address their lack of awareness of the sector.

The report and its findings will feed into the BFI’s comprehensive Skills Review, which is examining the needs for training and skills development across the production sector for scripted film and high-end television, and is being published next week. It will also contribute to the BFI’s 10-year National Lottery Strategy currently being developed to be in place from April 2023.

David Morgan, chief executive, Career Development Institute, said: “This research demonstrates how the Screen Industries can benefit from taking a proactive approach to engaging young people and careers teams. This is vital to ensure a continued pipeline of talent in one of the key industries that powers our economy. The screen industries are a vibrant and growing sector, yet, while young people are avid consumers of its output, they have limited knowledge of the many jobs available and can be deterred by perceptions based on a few highly visible roles. Qualified Careers Advisers are trained to provide impartial and expert information, advice and guidance to young people but they often have limited time and resources, so well designed support from industries is hugely helpful. This report makes an excellent case for the screen industries to work together to support Careers Advisers as well as reaching young people directly. The CDI are enthusiastic about the opportunities to work collaboratively with the screen industries to take these recommendations forward, and I look forward to more young people across the UK better understanding the wider opportunities open to them.”

Oli de Botton, chief executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “The screen industries can play a leading role in closing skills gaps in the sector and developing a sustainable talent pipeline. Engaging with young people in schools and colleges is a powerful and proven way of switching more young people on to pursuing careers in your industry. Companies can no longer sit back and expect the system to turn out oven ready job candidates. They need to step in and get involved; to spark young people’s imagination about what they can achieve; to fire their enthusiasm about working in the industry; to help them develop the skills that will enable them to take their best next step beyond the school gates and into the world of work. The great news is the support and infrastructure already exists to help make this happen. The Careers & Enterprise Company has an established and embedded network of Careers Hubs that is helping hundreds of companies and thousands of business professionals connect and build relationships with the education sector.”

The findings in the report are drawn from surveys and interviews with over 500 young people and over 250 careers leaders and careers advisors in schools across the UK. It examines the state of careers guidance, knowledge of the screen industries, associated continuing professional development for teachers, the influence of social media and the internet, and the power of parents to support decision-making.

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