Channel 4 has unveiled the first tranche of its 4Skills initiatives designed to give career, development and training opportunities in the broadcast industry for people across the Nations and Regions.

The four schemes will provide work experience and insight into a range of potential careers open to them within the broadcast industry.

The initiatives – the Channel 4 Production Trainee Scheme; Channel 4 Apprenticeships; 4Studio Placements; and the Aspiring Lawyers partnership -, combined with more 4Skills projects to be announced later this year, will provide training, work experience and placements to more than 50 people across the Nations and Regions.

Sinead Rocks, Channel 4’s Managing Director Nations & Regions, said: “Providing opportunities to young people who might never have given a second thought to a career in the broadcast is precisely what Channel 4 should be doing.

“The impact of Covid on the career opportunities of young people has been especially damaging so it’s vital that we work collectively with our partners to provide those entry level opportunities.

“It’s so important that we reach out and tap into talent pools which are all too often ignored or overlooked. Seeking out the next generation of diverse talent is imperative for Channel 4 and the wider industry.”

Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council and chair of Channel 4’s Partnership Board, said: “One of the many reasons we were so keen for Channel 4 to bring its new national HQ to Leeds was the knowledge that its presence here would mean increased employment, training and development opportunities for residents in the city and the wider region.

“The 4Skills initiatives are a perfect illustration of what can now be achieved and will hopefully open a door to the broadcast industry for talented and creative young people who might otherwise have been left on the outside looking in.

“It’s also gratifying to see the support that 4Skills is getting from independent production companies in Leeds, as it’s exactly this kind of collaborative and cohesive approach that will underpin our recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Well done to all those who have already secured places on one of these schemes.”

Channel 4 Production Training Scheme

Starting next month, at least 15 people will take up year-long, paid trainee positions with different independent production companies based in Bristol, Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Criccieth (North Wales), Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester.

During those 12 months they will undergo training boot camps, regular training sessions and mentoring, supported by ThinkBIGGER! while also gaining invaluable experience in their day to day roles with the indies.

Tom Popay, Head of Development at Belfast-based indie Stellify Media, said: ““We at Stellify are delighted to be taking part in the 4Skills Production Trainee Scheme for the first time!

“New talent is the life blood of our company, we have thrived from seeing people come in at entry level and work their way up the ladder here – influencing our content as they do. It’s extremely exciting to work with Channel 4 and develop more brilliant future programme makers.”

Zahra Aliyyah Khan, who will join The Garden in Leeds for a 12-month production training scheme placement, said: “The Production Trainee Scheme is all about opening doors into an industry that has always felt near impossible to get into. Prior to Channel 4’s move to Leeds, anyone studying TV production in the north would have to move down south if they wanted any chance of a career in TV. Securing a place on the scheme and having the chance to learn from so many talented people in television is a dream come true as I get to experience a year in a role that I have always wanted.

“Growing up in Bradford in a multicultural society, I want to use my voice to give under-represented communities a chance to have themselves heard without feeling misrepresented or stereotyped. Seeing someone like myself, my friends or my family on television is rare however I believe schemes such as the Production Training Scheme will allow us to take the steps needed to make those who feel ignored or misrepresented finally feel seen and heard.”

Another cohort of production trainees is planned to be in place for the autumn.


4Studio Paid Placements

Later this year, six people aged between 18-24 will take up placements with Channel 4’s in-house digital studio, 4Studio. The allocation of the six placements as part of this new pilot scheme, is focussed on offering opportunities to people in the region from diverse backgrounds.

4Studio Digital Content Director Janine Smith said: “I’m incredibly excited to bring opportunities to young creatives in the North. Being able to work directly with these young people will benefit 4Studio just as much as it will the participants. We firmly believe that creative talent can come from anywhere – no matter your background, qualifications or who your parents know.”

SharpFutures CEO Lee Stanley said: “Since we founded SharpFutures our ambition has always been to support diverse talent into employment in the creative digital and tech sectors so partnering with Channel 4 and 4Studio is an opportunity we naturally embrace enthusiastically!

“We are frequently overwhelmed by the sheer amount of creative and often untapped talent there is in The North. We can’t wait to meet and work with Yorkshire’s finest young creatives and to support their journey towards becoming the content creators of the future”

The successful candidates will take part in a 12-week fully paid programme consisting of six weeks’ training with SharpFutures, a specialist social enterprise company supporting diverse young people into employment, followed by a six-week placement with 4Studio. The programme will include a wide range of training and twice weekly masterclasses.


Channel 4 Apprenticeships

In a separate initiative, 13 people have already joined Channel 4 in long-term apprenticeships based in Leeds and Manchester. The apprenticeships, ranging from 15 to 24 months, are fully paid and cover a wide range of specialisms within Channel 4’s business – 4Studio; 4Creative; Agency Sales; Strategy & Consumer Insight; Finance; Communications/Pictures; Content Management/Programme Information; and Technology/Cyber Security.

Natalie Bagnall from Sheffield recently started a 15-month apprenticeship with Channel 4’s Programme Information team and said: “I started my apprenticeship in March this year and I can confidently say my expectations have been met and then some! The chance to gain such valuable insight into the broadcast media industry is amazing, and there are so many ways to get involved outside of my job role.”

Recruitment will begin on the next cohort of Channel 4 apprenticeships over the coming months to start in September.


Aspiring Solicitors

Channel 4’s Legal and Compliance department has also partnered with Aspiring Solicitors to offer mentoring and work experience for diverse candidates hoping to pursue a career as a lawyer or compliance advisor in the media sector. And to reflect Channel 4’s commitment to the Nations and Regions, half of the places have been reserved for people outside of London.

The partnership aims to help improve diversity in the sector and provide meaningful mentoring and/or work experience.

In addition to the Aspiring Solicitors partnership, Channel 4’s Legal & Compliance team has recently launched a second free interactive training guide for production companies and producers. Available on the 4Producers Handbook site, the latest module provides guidance on how best to work with the emergency services and follows the first resource which offers practical advice on making factual programmes.  These modules are designed to give producers the confidence to aim higher, develop more successfully and ultimately deliver creative, compliance programmes.

Jon Creamer

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