A shortfall of nearly twenty-one thousand crew for film and HETV production in the UK is forecast in a report published today by ScreenSkills.

The report also estimates just under 2.7 million square feet of additional stage space is due to come online by 2025.

At the same time, film and HETV production is likely to hit between £7.07 bn and £7.66 bn by 2025, up from the latest figures of £5.64 bn.

Training for the existing and new workforce will need annual investment of £95.1 million to £104.3 million.

The estimated economic return would be more than 15 times the cost of the training investment.

The research was commissioned by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for UK screen, supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding under the Future Film Skills strategy. It estimates that continued growth will require the equivalent of between 15,130 and 20,770 additional full-time crew within three years.

The report, titled Forecast of Labour Market Shortages and Training Investment Needs in Film and High-end TV Production, was carried out by the consultancy Nordicity, with the accountancy firm Saffery Champness LLP. It says that between £95.1 million and £104.3 million will be needed annually by 2025 to train the film and HETV workforce.

Latest figures show film and high-end television currently generates the equivalent of 122,000 full-time jobs. By the calculations in the report, training investment in the order of £104.3 million would fund the shortfall of crew and the indirect impact of  would go a long way to creating a further 23,270 full-time jobs across the UK economy.

Spending approximately £289.3 million on training during the three-year period 2023 to 2025 would enable film and high-end TV production to generate an additional £4.56 billion in GVA (gross value added) including direct, indirect and induced impact. This represents an economic return of more than 15 times the training investment.

The researchers conducted interviews with major film and HETV production companies, alongside an analysis of existing published and unpublished research to conclude that there is still room for growth on top of the rapid expansion fuelled by the introduction of the HETV Tax Relief in 2013 and a strong bounce back after the Covid lockdown.

The authors conclude that film and HETV production in the UK is likely to grow at an annual average rate of 7.3% between 2022 and 2025. They project that spending will reach between £7.07 billion and £7.66 billion by 2025 – an additional £1.43 billion to £2.02 billion spending from the 2021 figure of £5.64 billion.

The cost of training the workforce – with both light-touch and more intensive interventions – was based on figures for existing ScreenSkills training programmes.

In a high-growth scenario, annual spending of £104.3 million on training would represent 1.4% of the forecast level of production spend of £7.66 billion in 2025. This would be higher than sectors such as manufacturing and construction but lower than the business services and hotels and restaurants sectors where training investment rates were 3.5% and 2.5% respectively in 2019.

Many parts of the sector, including public service broadcasters, SVODs and independent production companies, already run their own training programmes with proven track records, although it has not been possible to quantify that investment.

In addition, financial support from the sector to ScreenSkills as the pan-industry skills body totalled £12.91 million last year. This was amplified by £4.3 million National Lottery funding awarded by the BFI as part of its Future Film Skills strategy.

Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “The data in this report will help us all plan sensibly to ensure the UK has the skilled and inclusive workforce needed to capitalise on the potential for further growth. The film and television industry is one of the UK’s great success stories and we need to work together to keep it that way. Growing the workforce will help ensure the country fully benefits from the projected growth in production expenditure.”

Today’s report is among a wide range of skills research conducted by ScreenSkills under the BFI Future Film Skills programme and also with the support of the ScreenSkills Skills Funds with industry contributions. It is among the evidence which has helped inform the BFI Skills Review that is examining the needs for training and skills development across the production sector for scripted film and high-end television and is due to be published shortly.

You can read the report in full here.

Picture: Trainee Finder hair and make-up trainee, Shona de Rose © Anne Binkebank

Pippa Considine

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