The BBC, Channel 4, Paramount and UKTV are to join forces to tackle the current production management skills gap facing the UK TV industry.

Line producers, production managers and production coordinators are regularly cited as one of the most difficult roles for independent production companies to recruit to.

At the same time there is increasing demand due to the growth of productions in the UK and the increased requirements on production management such as managing COVID protocols and albert certification.

The broadcasters participating in the scheme are each creating a specific Production Management Skills Fund which will be used to boost the volume of production management skills and capacity in the sector.

The intention is to ease the short-term strain in production management and help build a longer-term talent pool. Collectively the broadcasters are committing £1m over the next 12 months.

Production companies will be able to draw on the PM Skills Fund to support additional roles including a ‘step up’ role for a more junior production manager or coordinator to work alongside and learn from a more experienced role and helping those with transferable skills from another industry like events or theatre management to move into production management.

The participating broadcasters will use their PM Skills Funds to contribute at least 50% of the salaries of these additional roles for the duration of a production. Where possible, they will prioritise diverse talent, smaller and medium sized indies, and those based in the Nations and Regions.

The broadcaster investment would complement existing production management training in the sector and create a pipeline of opportunities for new recruits.

Each broadcaster will run the system according to their own strategic priorities and will distribute their money separately. This funding will be available from April 2022.

As well as the PM Skills Fund, the broadcasters have agreed to collaborate on outreach and engagement, working with other relevant industry organisations to market production management as a career.

Any producer who has a commission from one of the participating broadcasters should contact them directly if they have a candidate that fits this criteria and would be additional to their production team. Each broadcaster will make their decisions based on merit and strategic priority.

David Pembrey, Chief Operating Officer, BBC Content, said: “Production management is a highly-skilled and vital part of our industry. We want this funding to make a positive difference to productions who we know are managing increased requirements – as well as help develop the next generation of production management talent.”

Clare Brown, Controller Production Finance, Channel 4 said: “As a former production manager myself, I know that PMs and PCs are at the heart of a production and integral to its success. Funded from 4Skills, this fund will help to develop and sustain that production management talent pool which is so critical to the continued growth of production in the UK.”

Nan Whittingham, Vice President, Production UK, Paramount, said: “Production Managers are vital to our industry; content can’t be created without finding and retaining top-class production management talent. This dedicated initiative is a major priority for us, and we’re delighted to work with our broadcast partners on it. It will support Paramount’s own learning, development, and skills gaps funding as announced by Ben Frow last year.”

Richard Watsham, Director of Commissioning, UKTV: “Production management is a vital and long undervalued part of our industry and the skills gap in this area impacts us all. It’s something we should take seriously, acting swiftly to rectify. The essential funding announced today will help, but we must continue to monitor progress and take further action as appropriate to ensure the incredible creativity of British production is protected.”

Jon Creamer

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