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BFI Skills Task Force Criticized By Bectu For Rejecting Union

EXCLUSIVE: The BFI is to involve Bectu with its Skills Task Force after being criticized for the “disappointing” decision to initially exclude the union.

Deadline understands Bectu will play a role with the Task Force going forwards.

Chaired by former Amazon Studios Europe boss Georgia Brown, the Task Force was unveiled earlier today to address major skills shortages in the UK film and TV sector over the next five years.

The 20-plus delegates sitting on the body includes streamers, U.S. studios, UK broadcasters and a number of trade bodies, but has no union representation. The group has met once already without Bectu.

Philippa Childs, who heads up the union, described this decision as “disappointing” but said it is “pleased to confirm we have been invited to the next Task Force meeting” after “making clear to the BFI how critical workers’ representation on the Task Force is.”

If the Task Force wants to achieve its goal of addressing skills gaps and challenges in the UK, Childs said it is “essential to give workers a voice at the table.”

“Bectu has long been vocal about the need to address the skills shortage, emphasising that collaboration with all relevant industry stakeholders will be critical in achieving this,” she added. “You cannot fully discuss or seek to tackle skills shortages in the UK film and TV industry without considering working practices.”

A BFI spokeswoman said the Task Force is “still in its early stages” and described the first Task Force meeting, which Bectu wasn’t invited to, as an “employer-focused group to explore how they would step up to address the recommendations in the Skills Review.”

“As pointed out by Philippa, Bectu will be at the next meeting, and are a vital part of the substantive work taking place,” she added. “Of course the BFI believes working practices are a crucial part of tackling skill shortages, made clear in the findings and recommendations of the BFI Skills Review.”

A landmark BFI Skills Review last year found that an additional £104M ($127M) and 20,000 full-time jobs would be required over the next three years to ensure the UK’s TV and film sector keeps up with demand for projects. The review was backed by broadcasting and indie bosses and creatives including Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight.

Although the landscape has somewhat changed since then, given the mass layoffs at the U.S. studios and streamers and the cost-of-living crisis, the review’s key recommendation was that at least 1% of all production budgets be invested in training in order to mitigate the skills crisis.

Bectu’s Childs said she was initially dismayed by the union’s omission from the body given the recent crunch talks organized by the International Labour Organization, which featured buy-in from unions around the world and concluded that they should play a major part in setting working conditions for the entertainment sector.

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