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From tailored training to targeted investment, the HETV Skills Fund has been a gamechanger for the industry
This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the industry-created High-end TV Skills Fund. Managed by industry-led body ScreenSkills, the Fund uses production contributions to support those at all career levels to enter or progress in the industry. Investments are made in targeted training programmes and initiatives that build and develop the workforce across the UK.
The Fund has steadily grown in scale over the past decade, opening the door to the next generation of talent, and helping over 25,000 people across the UK start or progress their careers. Targeted investment and tailored training has addressed areas of skills shortage and equipped the UK’s production crew with the tools needed to thrive.
To celebrate a decade of the Fund, we’re looking back at 10 ways in which it has supported the industry over the years.
1. Enabling mid-career progression
Building a workforce is one thing, ensuring individuals have the tools and support to progress in their careers is another. The Fund delivers a host of mid-career progression programmes such as Leaders of Tomorrow and Make a Move, designed to do just that. The latter, in its eighth year, allows productions to step up freelance crew by providing targeted support to help them succeed.
Leaders of Tomorrow, now accepting nominations to form its third cohort, is a three-year inclusive leadership programme focused on providing comprehensive support and opportunities to those considered ready to step up to leadership roles in HETV.
2. Life-changing programmes
“Six years ago I was driving a taxi, now I’m speaking to Hollywood execs.” Tony Schumacher, writer of hit BBC drama The Responder, acknowledges his life was forever changed in 2019 after being part of the new writers programme developed and funded by the HETV Skills Fund.
It’s one of many landmark programmes supported by the Fund that has resulted in tangible change in the lives of those who have been part of them. The HETV co-producer programme, tackling an area of skills shortage, became a “completely life-changing experience” for James Levison, who landed a role on Killing Eve through the initiative. His progression to producer of the show speaks to the ways in which the Fund-supported programmes can help develop talent.
3. Providing pathways for new entrants
Creating opportunities for those taking their first steps into the industry has been a cornerstone of the Fund since it launched. In an industry that can often appear hard to access, developing programmes that provide training and on-the-job learning is integral to building the workforce and finding untapped talent.
First Break launched in 2019 to demystify entry into the industry for individuals from under-represented groups and provide those with no prior experience paid job shadowing roles, events and hands-on sessions to encourage people from all backgrounds to see the industry as a place for everyone.
Trisha Mistry, a previous First Breaker, says it opened her eyes to new possibilities in her home city of Manchester. “First Break threw me into a world of HETV [in Manchester] I didn’t know existed. I have learned so much as I’m around people who have been in the industry for years.”
Trainee Finder, now in its tenth year, is the next step on the ladder, providing subsidised production placements across a range of behind-the-camera roles to trainees. HETV Trainee Finder has more than 260 individuals across the UK in its 2023/24 cohort.
4. Industry collaboration working groups
The Fund is led by a proactive and engaged industry, which has been instrumental in shaping the opportunities and training available. In addition to the HETV Council, comprised of every UK broadcaster and streamer, 10 UK-wide working groups determine the most pressing areas of skills shortage in which to direct investments.
The groups, made up of representatives from UK-wide independent productions, use annual research and their on-the-ground expertise to determine the priorities each year, while focusing on ensuring our industry is truly diverse, inclusive and reflective of the UK’s production landscape.
Frith Tiplady, founder of Moonage Pictures and chair of the Craft and Tech Working Group, says: “As producers who pay into the Fund, it’s important we are part of the process that attracts new entrants into the industry and supports the crew in furthering skills. The structure of each working group means we can discuss each area’s needs to ensure money goes towards the right type of training.”
5. Skills support for HETV productions
Over its 10 years, 1,090 productions have contributed to the HETV Skills Fund. They do so with the knowledge that their investment is delivering trusted, targeted and result-focused training and opportunities to sustain and build the UK workforce.
“The Fund’s programmes give you the financial incentive to look at alternative people and give them opportunities”
Working as executive producer on Killing Eve, Lee Morris says: “The Fund’s programmes are so important because they give you the financial incentive to look at alternative people and give them opportunities, whether it’s someone super new or shadowing. This is vital if we’re going to sustain the level of success in the industry and expand.”
6. Bursaries for freelancers
To further open up the industry, the Fund offers financial support to freelancers to take control of their career needs and move forward positively. Bursaries can help individuals finance specialist training, driving lessons or access requirements.
In 2022, a new initiative offered bursaries and help with tuition and cost-of-living fees for three students from socio-economically challenged backgrounds over the course of an academic year at NFTS and Napier University. The initiative, following a successful pilot, is returning in the new academic year.
7. Flexibility for job-sharers and returners
Flexibility and access remain priorities for the HETV Fund. A funded job-share initiative delivered by Share My Telly Job allows those looking for part-time positions to partner up with a similarly skilled colleague, enabling a more flexible approach to work and ensuring the industry retains key talent.
Over the past five years, the Fund has also delivered annual programmes to support individuals after a career break, providing returners with the confidence and tools they need to return to a new working landscape.
8. Developing skills for all
To truly support the industry and workforce, it’s key that productions promote healthy working conditions. The Fund’s investment in mental-health awareness workshops and anti-bullying and harassment courses helps improve the industry for everyone.
Online learning and resources help further knowledge of the industry for those at every level, including modules on unconscious bias, a work-well series and inclusive hiring. In December 2022, alongside industry partners, the HETV Fund launched Script to Screen, a learning series designed to help newcomers learn the fundamentals of creating scripted content through digestible online modules.
9. Leadership and management
The Fund delivers a host of in-person leadership and management training for crews, covering the essentials of effective team management on productions. Taking in team dynamics, working culture and dealing with bullying and harassment, it’s designed to provide the skills that are less easily defined but no less important than the practical side of a job.
Speaking of the importance of such initiatives, Jo Evans, head of production at Buccaneer Media and chair of the Production Grades Working Group, says: “The swiftness with which some crew progress means they have not developed their soft skills, so it is brilliant that the Fund is continuing with its training in leadership and management, together with anti-bullying and harassment, and is able to offer it to all productions.”
10. Virtual production: evolving futures and new technologies
As the industry adapts and uses new technologies, the Fund has financed taster sessions all across the UK for new entrants and those in mid-career, across all grades, to better understand how new tech will impact their roles now and in the future.
A recent report highlighted the skills gaps developing due to the growth in VR studios and the evolution of new technologies. The HETV Fund has committed investments to help address this challenge.