Screenskills has set out the priorities for the third year of the Unscripted TV Skills Fund.

For 2023/2024 the USF will support a minimum of 65% of beneficiaries based outside of London and among the returning programmes are a shooting PD programme, a researcher to shooting AP programme and an edit assistant programme. New programmes for 2022/23 include programmes for casting researchers, production assistants and a step-up to development producer programme.

Sarah Joyce, Head of Unscripted and Children’s TV at ScreenSkills said the fund now has “four job shortage priority areas. These are craft and technical, production, post-production and development and we address specific roles in each category. We recently did some fieldwork at the start of the year which identified the most pressing shortages. They included researchers, production managers, editors, archive researchers, and production coordinators. In addition, we were able to identify some regional specific critical needs – for example, researchers and development producers in Wales and production managers and editors in both Scotland and the South East. The USF is investing in all these areas and delivering locally to meet the needs across the UK.”

In the past year, (April 2022 – March 2023) the Unscripted TV Skills Fund received an income of £1.86m with the combined income in the funds’ first two years at £3.17m.

In 2022-2023, the Fund achieved a total direct economic spend outside London of 68%. 135 production companies contributed to the Fund in its second year and a combined total of 259 production companies invested in the first two years.

Joyce said that “now that the Fund is established, the next two to three years is about providing even greater support to the unscripted TV community, listening to what they need and helping to reduce skills gaps and shortages right across the UK. To do this, we want to work with more production companies so that we can provide the best training and development programmes so that unscripted TV crew have every opportunity to progress their careers.”

In regards to the current slowdown in commissioning, Joyce said: “While it’s too early to speculate on the impact of the current slowdown, it is something that we are monitoring and talking to colleagues about. It is a challenging time for everyone. The Fund offers a range of resources from resilience and health and wellbeing support, to training and skills development to support freelancers. We supported the industry during lockdown and will continue to do so now.”

Jon Creamer

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