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The value of apprenticeships in TV is being “stifled by an inflexible system”, two ScreenSkills-backed pilot schemes have revealed.

The training body tested a new model of apprenticeship in the pilots, which it ran with the DCMS, Department for Education and several industry partners and which were designed to reflect the project-based nature of production.

All businesses, across all sectors, with a pay roll of £3 million or more pay the Apprenticeship Levy, but ScreenSkills devised the pilots to address the fact that standard 12-month apprenticeships were out of step with the TV production model.

Though both pilots scored positive for on-the-job training and for the diversity of opportunities from people of different backgrounds, ScreenSkills concluded that neither was sufficiently flexible to be a long-term solution.

It had issues with the “quality and relevance” of some of the standards and training, which in some cases did not fit the requirements of a production role.

ScreenSkills chief executive Seetha Kumar spelled out her concerns.

“It’s a system that disregards the freelance and project-based nature of a sector which the government has itself identified as an important growth sector for the UK,” she said.

“If we don’t change how apprenticeships work for the screen industries, making them more effective for both the apprentices and the employers, then ultimately the system will fail for our sector.”

Failing to tackle he issue would, she said, exacerbate existing skills shortages and undermine he government’s commitment to ‘level up’ the sector.

ScreenSkills also calculated that levy contributions covered only 14% of the cost of the pilots, with industry contributing 69%.

It said the levy’s scope should be extended so it can offer a broader, quality-assured range of vocational training options, and for the levy to be used to fund more industry-recognised training providers.

ScreenSkills is keen, meanwhile, to use levy funds to establish groups of apprentices from multiple employers to maximise the effectiveness of their training.

It is also calling for the removal of fixed minimum-length requirements for apprenticeship standards, to reflect TV production contracts more effectively.

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