Universities ‘failing to prepare graduates for UK film industry’

Generic courses may not be equipping students with much-needed skills, says British Film Institute

June 28, 2017
Source: istock
What kind of courses actually help train people for life on a film set?

Universities are failing to equip potential recruits to the UK’s film industry with the skills that the sector needs, a report warns.

Research conducted for the British Film Institute found that the UK’s film industry was demonstrating “a rapid growth which outstrips every other sector”, and would need “10,000 new recruits” over the next five years.

But Future Film Skills – An Action Plan, published on 28 June, says that there was evidence of “widespread skills shortages”, with “the educational sector not providing the skills individuals need”.

In 2014-15, according to the research carried out for Future Film Skills, there were 59,400 students in British universities “studying subjects related to the film and screen industries”. Yet about 40 per cent of them were not learning “craft and technical skills” but were on “non-vocational courses like media and communication studies”.

Given “significant skills shortages”, this “rais[ed] questions about the relevance of some of this more general provision” and “highlight[ed] the need for stronger links between educators and industry to ensure learners are studying the right things”, the report says.

“Media studies is a highly employable degree, but people don’t necessarily go on to work in the film sector,” Paul Gerhardt, director of education at BFI, told Times Higher Education. “Young people who are choosing which degrees to do, and parents who are advising them, are simply not informed about the relationship between them and specific areas of employment.”

Dr Gerhardt recalled occasions when he had visited universities and been shown “the wonderful studios they’ve built [for their film courses] and the fantastic equipment in them”, yet staff were unable to tell him how many of their graduates went on to work in the industry. He would like to see much more awareness of the range of work available in the film industry for accountants, data analysts and lawyers, for example, so that students “might choose where to do their professional training for its link with the film industry”.

Among other recommendations to help maintain the skills pipeline, Future Film Skills called for a proper “skills forecasting service” and “a trusted and reliable careers information service”. It also wanted a proper accreditation system to ensure that all courses are “industry-approved and can deliver the desired employment outcomes”.

matthew.reisz@timeshighereducation.com

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