In a series of articles featuring the questions surrounding commercial production, The Drum catches up with low budget TV and digital ad specialists STV Creative, creative audio company Kalua, video guide producers Flixity, TV and radio commercial production specialists The JMS Group and animators Flaunt Productions to take stock of the industry and find out what we can expect to see going forward.
Today’s question is:
What is the current talent pool like in the industry? Are colleges and universities equipping students with the practical skills the industry requires?
Gav Matthews, MD, Kalua
It’s certainly getting better. We work with a number of colleges and universities on their radio campaigns, and often go in and talk to the students on site about how the industry works – because they can only pick up so much from the classroom. Real industry experience will always be key in developing new talent, and we should play our part. Having said that, universities are working hard at this – the Salford University Campus at our new home Media City in Manchester is outstanding.
Jack Garrow, director, Flixity
Talent pool is average – there is a big shortage of very experienced crew - especially editors. Flixity have found that colleges tend to produce lots of people semi-skilled in five or six different areas rather than specialising in certain disciplines i.e. cameras, sound, editing. It means that companies like ours have to do a fair amount of training ourselves to make these people ready and useful in any productions.
Francesca de Lacey, head of TV, The JMS Group
A few colleges are; many aren’t. The most desirable new talent will always be the ones with not only a burning enthusiasm, but a strong practical streak, preferably nurtured through hands-on involvement in the industry. Too many courses seem to favour theory over practicality, but that’s probably down to a shortage of work experience opportunities for the students.
Paula Lacerda, executive producer, Flaunt
Talent pool of experienced people in the industry seems good. I think colleges or universities are missing a trick, however, in adequately equipping students with some very basic communication skills. Someone might have good practical skills in their chosen discipline, but if they can’t write a basic report, have some common sense or know how to engage in a team situation, the outcome doesn't look good does it?
Stephen O’Donnell, head of STV Creative, STV
We strive to foster strong relationships with universities and have invested a lot of resource in work placement schemes. We work with various institutions from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, the RSAMD in Glasgow and Napier University in Edinburgh, and I personally do some mentoring too. We have four separate active work placement schemes for producers, graphics designers and creatives.
There are obvious benefits for the universities and students but we benefit too by getting access to emerging talent and generating our own bespoke talent pool, experienced and trained in the particular way we work. Over the last three years I’ve recruited four staff this way; three of them are still with STV Creative today, which pretty much demonstrates our satisfaction with the practical skills and attitude of the students we’ve seen.