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Apprenticeship pilot aims to unlock levy funds for UK screen

The Government last week announced that is backing a pilot project originally developed by ScreenSkills to unlock the apprenticeship levy for the UK’s booming screen industries.

Visiting the set of the new James Bond film, Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport joined ScreenSkills CEO Seetha Kumar to announce the project at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire.

It responds to screen industry concerns that millions paid by film, television, visual effects (VFX) and animation companies into the Government scheme – mandatory for all with a wages bill in excess of £3 million - is currently unusable for many roles.

The pilot will work on the model of an apprentice training agency (ATA) where apprentices are employed by the agency and placed on multiple placements over the course of the 12-month programme.

This resolves the problem that many production companies cannot offer a 12-month apprenticeship contract – the legal minimum under apprenticeship levy rules – because of the project-based nature of film and television production where even large-scale productions employ few roles continuously for a year.

The ambition is to support around 25 apprentices during the pilot which will be designed to act as a proof of concept for a new model of how high quality apprenticeships can be delivered in the screen industries.

ScreenSkills has been working with industry and Government to encourage greater flexibilities in the apprenticeship levy system. The innovative apprenticeships pilot will enable industry employers to transfer available unspent levy funds in to the scheme. DCMS is investing £100,000 towards other costs.

The aim is to make sure that employers in project-based industries are no worse off financially than those in more traditional structures while the apprentice gets the full benefits of an apprenticeship including a minimum 20% off-the-job training.

This work builds on a ScreenSkills campaign to open up the screen industries to new and diverse talent which launched at the end of May. Find Your Future in Film and TV features seven alumni of ScreenSkills training to highlight the range of jobs available behind the camera in film and television and the pathways into them.