The UK’s film and high-end TV could be worth nearly £7.7B ($9.4B) by 2025 but training enough crew to achieve that would cost around £300M ($368M), according to a study by British industry body ScreenSkills.
The value of the production sector is expected to leap from the current £5.64B to anywhere between £7.07B and £7.66B, with around 15,130 and 20,770 additional crew needed to meet demand.
While this represents an annual investment of between £95.1M and £104.3M between 2023 and 2025, ScreenSkills’ research suggests the estimated economic return would be 15 times the costs of the training — with the costs based on figures for existing ScreenSkills training programs.
The UK is currently seeing a surge in productions as broadcasters and streamers line up increasingly ambitious shows and take advantage of the industry’s tax break system. However, a skills clear gap has emerged and many are concerned that major projects such Amazon’s upcoming production of the Lord of the Rings TV series will push the situation from problematic into a crisis.
‘The Forecast of Labour Market Shortages and Training Investment Needs in Film and High-end TV Production’ study, carried out by consultancy Nordicity with the accountancy firm Saffery Champness LLP, also claims the higher-end of this investment scale would “go a long way” to creating a further 23,270 full-time jobs across the UK economy.
The research notes that the latest UK figures show film and high-end television currently generates the equivalent of 122,000 full-time jobs.
The report’s authors — who conducted interviews with major film and high-end TV companies and analyzed existing and unpublished research — have concluded in the UK industry still can grow, fuelled by the HETV Tax Relief mechanism and post-COVID bounceback. All in all, the sector is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 7.3% — an additional £1.43B-£2.02B spend from 2021’a £5.64B total.
The authors conclude that film and HETV production in the UK is likely to grow at an annual average rate of 7.3% between 2022 and 2025. They project that spending will reach between £7.07 billion and £7.66 billion by 2025 – an additional £1.43 billion to £2.02 billion spending from the 2021 figure of £5.64 billion.
Should the UK experience a high-growth scenario, annual training spend of £104.3M would represent around 1.4% of the projected £7.66B productions spend by 2025 — higher than in sectors such as manufacturing and construction but lower than the business services and hotels and restaurants sectors.
The report noted that many public service broadcasters, SVODs and independent production companies already run their own training programmes with proven track records, but that it has not been possible to quantify that investment.
Elsewhere in the study, it was suggested just under 2.7 million square feet of additional stage space will be available by 2025. The lack of physical production space has been one of producers’ longest-held concerns about the shape of the industry, and numerous studios and production space constructions are underway around the country.
Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “The data in this report will help us all plan sensibly to ensure the UK has the skilled and inclusive workforce needed to capitalise on the potential for further growth.”
She added the UK’s film and television industry is “one of the UK’s great success stories and we need to work together to keep it that way. Growing the workforce will help ensure the country fully benefits from the projected growth in production expenditure.”
Anita Overland, producer and chair of the ScreenSkills Film Skills Council, said: “It is important that films of every scale and budget have the right people for those productions, so it is useful to understand what is likely to happen in the next few years. I am very proud of what the Film Skills Council does to support training, but this is a reminder of how much further work is needed – financially but also in terms of creating opportunities for people to learn on the job.”
This study is part of the BFI Future Film Skills program delivered by ScreenSkills with National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI.