Television acts to end 'lottery' for job-seekers

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The Independent Online
BRITISH television made a move yesterday to end the 'lottery of nepotism and ad hoc hirings' that faces young people wanting to work in television and film.

With huge redundancies within the BBC and ITV and the switch to independent production, half of the industry's employees now work as freelances. Many new recruits pick up skills on the job.

Michael Grade, chief executive of Channel 4, launched Skillset, a training organisation for broadcast, film and video, yesterday. It will implement vocational qualifications, issue grants to subsidise training courses for freelances (who can also offset costs against tax), and carry out surveys to assess where skill shortages are expected. The courses range from survival guides for independent producers to boom operating and lighting for 16mm film.

Mr Grade said: 'Freelance access to skills training is nowhere near what it was when people were part of a captive labour force. The result is that the available skills base will disappear. But the industry relies on that for its basic success. It is the essential underpinning of British broadcasting, from which everything else stems. By setting common standards, as a basic, it shows us how far behind we have been.'

Skillset is funded by about pounds 1m, made up of annual contributions of pounds 200,000 from the ITV Association, pounds 100,000 from Channel 4 and a levy calculated at 0.25 per cent of each independently-produced programme, up to a cap of pounds 6,250. It has also won pounds 800,000 from the European Social Fund.