BBC Studioworks accelerates next generation talent plan

BBC Studioworks is launching a three-year talent plan in order to combat the acute skills shortage in the UK TV studios market and to increase diversity.

While first class, the talent pool around London is a dwindling resource. If the industry is to continue to facilitate the UK’s biggest entertainment shows, BBC Studioworks believes the talent pipeline and its associated skillset requires urgent attention.

The tangible talent plan will increase diversity at BBC Studioworks by removing barriers to entry through engaging directly with school leavers and providing opportunities for employment in the Elstree and White City areas

The plan has four elements:

Broadening the volume and range of trainees – BBC Studioworks is increasing the number of trainee roles; with the aim they’ll account for 10% of its workforce by 2021. New trainee positions are planned across vision, sound, lighting and engineering. In a move to broaden its feeder network and expand beyond post graduate courses, it also plans to introduce post school entry level positions for a number of roles including camera and lighting assistants.

Increasing early years advocacy at school level – BBC Studioworks has partnered with Rise on its ‘Rise Up’ programme to inspire and educate primary school children to consider a career in broadcasting, tech and engineering roles. Starting from January 2021, BBC Studioworks will sponsor and run ten training workshops (likely to be delivered virtually) for year six children in Elstree and White City. Broadcast engineering roles are essential for BBC Studioworks to fulfil its operations, but a lack of awareness and engagement early on in education means that applicants for engineering courses at university and further education levels are rapidly decreasing. The Rise Up partnership will help ensure diversity in the pipeline of talent required for the future extends far beyond the next few years.

Mentoring – As part of its commitment to increasing its engagement with the local community, BBC Studioworks is launching a mentoring scheme in partnership with ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the Future Film Skills programme, and Elstree Screen Arts Academy (formerly Elstree University Technical College). The initiative is designed to provide support for school leavers as they make the transition to employment within the creative industries. The pilot mentoring programme, which runs from October-February 2021, will see 15 BBC Studioworks staff mentoring 15 Elstree Screen Arts students. The pilot will consist of six one-to-one sessions (either in person or virtually) and will help inform and shape the mentoring programme for next year, which will be extended to include educational partnerships in White City. The mentoring programme will be part of the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network.

Work experience – BBC Studioworks recognises that work experience is key to raising awareness around, and affinity to, its business as well as being a crucial component to CV building and opening its doors even further to the local community. It’s therefore enhancing its work experience offering and expanding it to new areas such as design and carpentry, but also to non-craft areas such as facilities management.

“To create a healthy, dynamic and thriving business for the future, access to opportunities in our industry need to change,” said Andrew Moultrie, CEO, BBC Studioworks. “By rethinking our approach to our future talent pipeline, and making active interventions to remove barriers to entry, we’re positively committing to action.”

“Elstree Screen Arts believes in the power and importance of cultural education for all and we provide specialist technical and applied training in the trades, crafts and disciplines that underpin the creative industries,” Chris Mitchell, Principal, Elstree Screen Arts Academy. “We are delighted that BBC Studioworks is partnering with us to break barriers and increase access, providing mentoring, training and employment for the next generation of skilled and diverse professional creatives – ensuring that the UK creative sector continues to be world class.”

BBC Studioworks also has established relationships with the National Film and Television School, sitting on its advisory board and Elstree Screen Arts Academy where a work experience programme has successfully been in place for a number of years.

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