I run a university program that offers a degree in content, media and film production. And I’ve spent 15 years in the news industry as an editor, journalist, and producer, so maybe it’s no surprise that I’m passionate about the potential of courses related to the creative industries, and screen media in particular. What I don’t like, however, are courses that produce young people leaving school without a big picture of what a changing media landscape is, or graduates lacking in transferable skills that help them. In the working world. So yes, we need more media students, but the quality of the education they receive and the relevance of the content they learn is paramount, as there is a dearth of bright stars in a full sky. of opportunities.
A report by the Work Foundation for the British Film Institute in 2017 described a number of challenges associated with skills shortages in the film and screen industries. This sector alone employs 66,000 people across the UK, but there is a lack of diversity and work preparation among those entering these industries. Part of this, the researchers say, is because the courses fail to deliver the relevant industry skills. In addition, an overview of the student path and possible career progression is not available, while advice and guidance is considered “insufficient”. This is problematic for students who decide to study media-related topics and for companies looking for graduates with the ability and knowledge to perform specific roles.
This gap between what is taught and what is expected in the industry is creating a huge disconnect as the industry and the demand for skills continue to grow. For example, the UK film industry is one of the most exported sectors of the UK economy, bringing in £ 2bn to the Treasury in 2015. The creative industries as a whole generate £ 92bn per year for the UK United, according to the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Therefore, there is a need for qualified people and it is possible to blur the lines between academia and industry; yet few institutions do this or prepare graduates to be “ready for work”. This is one of the reasons we created ScreenSpace, where students are immersed in the industry with our business partners such as Twitter and Microsoft from day one. This means having up-to-date skills and being able to be up and running in a variety of areas: from storytelling and digital editing to data and analytics and creative entrepreneurship.
Another reason for adopting more media courses is to encourage diversity: if more people have the opportunity to study media, then they are more likely to go into the field. Currently, there are gaps in the creative industries in terms of gender, ethnicity and disability, and we are seeing this in both staff and compensation. The recent controversy surrounding Claire Foy being paid much less than her co-star, Matt Smith, for their roles in the Netflix series The crown highlights industry gaps, and women in screen industries receive an average of £ 3,000 less than their male counterparts. In other fields like journalism, Carrie Gracie and the BBC Women group have highlighted pay inequalities with their female colleagues at ITN.
However, it is not only the media world that benefits from the highly transferable skills that students acquire when studying media. Presentation and marketing experience, the ability to read analysis, forecast trends, undertake critical analysis and know how to tell a story and present a product in the industry of your choice are highly desirable skills. In an increasingly data-driven world, knowing how to read data and respond are attributes that will become even more important. Notably with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation legislation this month.
Essentially, all businesses are affected by some aspect of media, whether it’s through Twitter, an email distribution list, or a YouTube channel. And all businesses, from banks to universities, are now essentially software companies that need digital and media knowledge to help them operate in a complex landscape. It is a space where fake news meets factual reporting, when often the two cannot be differentiated, and fact-checking has become an essential tool in the arsenal of any media organization.
Thus, knowledge of the media and the media landscape could help deliver more quality creations (a world without Grand Theft Auto, Stella McCartney or vlogger / director Will Darbyshire would be a sad place indeed), but it also helps individuals gain basic digital and media literacy. This will help them function in the world of work, where the lines between personal and professional are increasingly blurred, and where media consumption is tracked and data is king. To achieve this, we need more quality, relevant and industry-standard media courses.
Lisette Johnston is the school principal at ScreenSpace.