The High-End Television Fund’s annual workforce research published today highlights the continued skills shortages and gaps in high-end TV production. By comparison with last year’s research, twice as many respondents identified the skills issue as worsening.

It identified specific gaps in the role of editor post production supervisor and the art department generally.

In 2023/24 the Fund will invest £10.5m in development, continuing the higher levels of investment seen since 2021/22, when that figure was £10m, just over double the £4.5million in the previous year.

Produced annually since 2017, the qualitative and quantitative research looks at skills shortages experienced across the UK – the lack of available crew to make progammes; and skills gaps – the perceived lack of experience and skill – across the industry.

The research evidenced that the high demand for crew in HETV continues to result in skills shortages. 81% of respondents, a slight decrease on the previous year (2021: 86%) was serious or very serious; and twice as many respondents said that the skills issue had worsened – 41% versus 22%.

Specific issues highlighted by the research included a lack of business and management skills and crew often being given increased responsibility, ‘stepping up’, too early due to the lack of available skills crew in every role. Almost nine out of ten respondents (87%) cited the issue of stepping up as a cause for concern; and 75% referenced the lack of business and management skills. The percentage increased to 84% when the lack of craft of technical experience and skills was included.

Other factors impacting on the TV production include the demand for increasing levels of pay, which rose from 68% to 81% and ‘show jumping’ – when crew leave a programme mid production to take up a new job (76%). While concerns about availability of crew has decreased (71%), it was still quoted by respondents as an area of concern.

79% of respondents highlighted the skills gap in terms of leadership skills as a significant issue – an increase of 34% from the previous survey; with 70% also citing the issue of financial management.

In terms of specific grades shortages, there were year on year increases in many of the same roles, with notable increases in roles including Post production supervisor (2022/23: 24%; 2021/22: 9%); Editor (27%; 9%). This year, a new shortage in post-production supervisors (24%) was highlighted alongside increasing shortages in art departments in general.

In 2022, the HETV Skills Fund supported approximately 5,000 individuals to enter and progress in the industry via industry targeted initiatives which are helping to tackle many of the issues highlighted in the research and which were voluntarily cited by respondents. These included Trainee Finder, providing paid placements for production talent to enter the industry across the UK; Make A Move, which provides on-the-job training enabling career progression for those stepping up; Leadership and Management training and anti-bullying and harassment training now in its fourth year of delivery as well as ScreenSkills wider Work Well e-learning series. The HETV Fund also deliver Leaders of Tomorrow, a three-year management training programme for mid-level professionals. In April 2023, the HETV Fund, together with ScreenSkills animation, children’s and film funds will launch another year-long Trainee Finder programme, which helps to secure placements for production trainees based all across the UK and includes finance training and mentoring. In 2023/24, the programme will support over 350 trainees, and between launch in 2016 and 2022 it supported over 1,400 people complete 3,335 placements to continue their careers in the screen industries.

Respondents were also asked to identify areas which the HETV Skills Fund should further focus on in the future, As well as continuing to tackle specific grade shortages (63%), other key themes included training to support wider skills development and inclusion and diversity.

“From training new entrants and providing ongoing career development and leadership training, the survey respondents recognise the significant impact the HETV Fund makes,” says Kaye Elliott, director of the High End TV Fund at ScreenSkills. “As HETV production in the UK continues to increase, we will use the results of this research to further invest in training and development programmes to support the UK’s production community and ensure that the UK remains a first class destination for high-end television production.”

“This research highlights the fact that the boom in high quality and successful high-end television productions made in the UK is having a continued impact on skills,” commented Elliott. ”However, there is cause for cautious optimism. The forthcoming audio-visual expenditure credit and maintaining the qualifying tax relief threshold at £1m will mean so many of our well loved shows continue to be made in the UK and ScreenSkills’ HETV Council has also agreed a further annual increase in its investment in training and development by increasing the caps on qualifying productions to strengthen collective investment in skills development.”

In March 2023, the HETV Skills Council, which includes a representative from PACT, agreed to increase the cap for contributions to the Fund, which is the amount tax qualifying productions pay into The Fund to invest back in skills. In 2023/24, an increase by CPI will be introduced, increasing the contribution for productions with budgets of less than £5 million per episode to £73,300 and £110,500 for productions over £5 million per episode. These increases mean that in 2023/2024, £10.5 million will be invested in training and development programmes.

The High-end Television Fund is part of ScreenSkills, the skills body for the UK screen industries. An independent charity, industry funded and business-led, it helps to train people at every career stage. High-end television is defined as productions that cost more than £1m per broadcast hour to produce.




Pippa Considine

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