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Home > News > July 2004 > 12-Jul-2004

Ethnic media talent boosted by Skillset Millennium Awards

High profile figures from the media industries celebrated the success of more than 100 winners of Skillset Millennium Awards at last week's showcase at the Royal Society of Arts, London.

Leading film and TV producer Floella Benjamin and Newsreader Phil Gayle were among those attending the showcase of Awards winners who receive a grant to complete a community based film, radio, website or print media project and up to £10,000 worth of BBC training. The Awards, funded by lottery money through the Millennium Commission, are designed to improve diversity in the media where the Skillset Census 2003 found that ethnic minorities make up only 7.4% of the workforce.

Clive Jones, Chief Executive of ITV News, and Skillset Chair, said: "The industry knows it has a problem. A reliance on informal recruitment methods with people getting jobs through contacts or even relatives makes it’s tough for newcomers to break in, especially those from ethnic communities and that’s bad for business because we are limiting the pool of talent we can benefit from. The Skillset Millennium Awards are a vital way of making our industry more diverse and ultimately more creative and competitive."

The Millennium Awards Scheme is part of a £200 million programme of grants to individuals administered by not for profit organisations across the UK and funded by the Millennium Commission.

Producer Floella Benjamin said: "The Skillset Millennium Awards has helped individuals with culturally diverse backgrounds forge careers in the media by opening doors for their talent to shine through. The achievements of the winners here tonight are an inspiration to anyone who wants to work in the media irrespective of their background."

Newsreader Phil Gayle said: "We definitely need more people of colour on our TV screens to reflect the world we live in and to make that happen we need more people of colour behind the cameras, in control of the programmes. Judging by the projects on show tonight, a lot of these Skillset Awards winners are going to become those people, which is great news for the industry and for audiences."

Projects presented at the showcase range from www.blackparentnetwork.com , a website focusing on health, welfare and parenting skills as well as positive portrayals of black beauty and identity, to Arts Able, a film which aims to raise the profile of physically disabled performers.

Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries. Audio visual industries in this context means, Broadcast, Film, Video, Interactive Media and Photo Imaging. Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent, UK wide organisations developed by groups of influential employers in industry or business sectors of economic or strategic significance. SSCs are employer-led and actively involve trade unions, professional bodies and other stakeholders in the sector.

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