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The growing demand for scripted production is threatening the quality of British drama, with inexperienced crew members promoted to fill skills gaps, the BFI has warned.

In its Skills Review, the BFI warns that a 63% increase in production spend over the past five years - to £5.6bn - is creating critical crew shortages and an overburdened, stressed and under-trained workforce.

BFI chief executive Ben Richards said the report provides the evidence to support "a long-overdue production reset".

The report calls for the proportion of invested in training to double to at least 1% of the £1m-plus budget of high-end dramas each year, which it estimates will deliver £56m.

Currently, these shows pay 0.5% into the high-end TV skills fund to qualify for tax relief. This is capped at £66,300, rising to £100,000 for productions budgeted at more than £5m.

In 2021/22, the HETV Skills Fund collected £8.2 million, with the Film Skills Fund collecting £1.4 million.

“If not addressed, this could ultimately threaten the quality of the work, potentially damaging the UK’s reputation as home to one of the most highly skilled and sought after crews in the world,” the report states.

The BFI is to trial a service to map crew and to forecast shortages, as well as initiatives to create job description templates for productions to use in recruitment, provide careers advice, and fund workforce diversity monitoring.

While praising broadcaster and streamer efforts to invest in training, the BFI wants more cross-sector efforts that recognise that this is an “industrialised” problem in a sector that has outgrown its roots as a “cottage industry”.

Investment in training should be industry-led and localised, with a more formal hiring and professional development process, stronger bridges into industry and more comprehensive careers information and data to support policy and action.

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