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National Skills Day for media industries

Lord Puttnam today announced the launch of a National Skills Day for the Audio Visual Industries. Plans for the annual event, a joint initiative by Skillset, BBC, Channel 4, ITV, five, Broadcast magazine, BECTU and Pact, were unveiled at the Broadcast Production Show.

The first National Skills Day will take place on 19 May 2005 with employers, training providers and trade associations across the UK staging activities to provide access to and promote the skills development of the workforce. Some of the initiatives for 2005 outlined at the launch include: apprenticeships at Channel 4; camera training for producers and directors at RDF Media; and GWR Radio’s coaching masterclasses.

Speaking at the launch Lord Puttnam said: "National Skills Day will raise awareness of the fundamental importance of skills and career progression to the future of the Broadcasting industry. Every one of the major Broadcasters are involved, and it's vital that all companies in the industry - small, medium and large - focus on developing the skills and talent which will become drivers of the future strength and prosperity of the industry.

"Broadcasting is characterised by freelance working patterns that offer little in the way of career structure and technology is constantly changing so that a willingness to engage in lifelong learning is now absolutely essential. A dedicated day during which the entire industry focuses on skills is long overdue. We hope that employers and training providers will take a creative approach to activities on National Skills Day 2005 thereby acting as a real beacon to other sectors."

Alec McPhedran, Training and Development Manager, Channel 4 said, “National Skills Day is a fantastic idea. Everyone involved in the industry should take this opportunity to look at what they can do to continue developing their talent. Everyone in the industry should take this opportunity to look at what they could offer to continue developing talented people.”

Showcasing some of the types of activities which will take place as part of National Skills Day, Channel 4 has announced they will be taking on two people aged 16-25 on an 18 month apprenticeship training programme. The scheme will start in the summer with one person based in London and the other in Glasgow. David Frank of RDF Media announced an initiative enabling producers and directors to shoot their own material. The training will range from an introduction to the PD150 camera, basic lighting and sound, to experience with the more complex DSR500 camera, as well as sound mixing and hands-on experience in an edit suite. GWR Radio are implementing coaching masterclasses aimed at managers across the organisation who can use the skills they learn to help develop others. Resources packs illustrating how organisations can become involved – job swaps; open house days; mentoring; taster samples; discounted courses - will be available shortly.

“National Skills Day is long overdue", said Nigel Paine, Head of BBC Training and Development. "The industry should share what it has to offer with prospective employees both young and old. It is an exciting industry going through massive change, using a highly skilled and competent workforce. The BBC is in full support of National Skills Day and hopes to play a major role in its implementation.”

Skillset’s Workforce Survey 2003, which questioned nearly 2000 employees and freelancers, found that despite a highly qualified workforce – 66% are educated to degree level compared to 16% of the UK as a whole - almost two thirds reported training needs, with 9 out of 10 who sought training reporting barriers to receiving it. The survey also revealed that retention levels within the industry are low with only 39% of the workforce aged over 35.

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