Industry skills body ScreenSkills is increasing the funds available for individual screen professionals for training and career opportunities and opening the bursaries programme to new entrants for the first time.

More than £500,000 will be committed to bursaries in 2019-2020, supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding, and with industry contributions from the High-end, Children’s TV and Television Skills Funds.

The application process has been simplified with a single point of entry covering all the different funds available.

New rules mean that applications will be considered for the first time for items such as driving lessons, software licensing or wet weather equipment because not being able to afford these items has been identified as a barrier to progressing in the screen industries.

Support will continue to be offered for childcare, accommodation and travel in a move to open up opportunities to people wanting to return to the industry after a parenting break and for those who need initial help in taking up opportunities to advance their career.

New entrants to the screen industries will be eligible for some strands of financial support for the first time.

Applications will be prioritised from people if they are filling, or are likely to fill, a skills gap or shortage priority area. Other factors which may be taken into account in awarding funds include income and whether the proposed course is one recognised by ScreenSkills. Some funding is reserved for groups under-represented in the screen industries.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills Chief Executive Officer, said: “The skilled workforce is one of the pillars of the UK screen industries. But with pressure on people to step up more quickly and new kit and technologies coming onstream, we know there is a constant need to improve skills and update knowledge.
“Our bursaries offer individuals support to take control of their own careers by providing contributions towards whatever they need to progress, whether that’s support for childcare, a new software licence or a particular training programme. Sometimes comparatively small things, such as not being able to drive, can be a major hurdle to getting on so we hope these new funds will help.”

The bursaries are a key deliverable of the BFI’s Future Film Skills strategy, which aims to improve representation across the screen sector’s workforce by removing barriers, opening up opportunity and enhancing career progression. Some funds will also be dedicated to supporting training outside London and the South East.

The High-end TV Skills fund is nearly quadrupling the funds committed to bursaries this year from £50,000 to £190,000 for the new financial year, including funds for bursaries for short courses listed under the Skills Passport initiative.

The Television Skills Fund is again committing £20,000 towards TV skills training for anyone who is a member of under-represented groups in unscripted television genres or in particular  job roles within unscripted. For the first time, the Children’s TV Skills Fund has allocated bursary funds – of £30,000.

Staff Reporter

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