Media technology

The skills crisis – Why media technology is trying to attract “a slightly different type of person” | Industry trends

Ahead of the 500-student Rise Up Academy summer school, BT Sport’s chief engineering officer Andy Beale warned: “The looming skills crisis we’ve been waiting for is here, and it’s real. .”

The parallel diversity crisis – across its gender, ethnic, socio-economic and disability aspects – goes hand in hand with skills shortages in media technology infrastructure, but may need to remain a near-permanent ambition while the industry is beginning to address its skills issues. .

But Andy Beale was also optimistic. “I sincerely believe that we can attract a slightly different type of person than we had before and increase our diversity to where it should be,” he said.

Like BT Sports, ITV Studios is a big supporter of the Rise Up Academy, and Production Technology Manager Tim Guilder added: “With 40% adoption of the video broadcast we’re trying to do, we’ve a lot of content that needs to be produced. We need technical people to help facilitate this.

He has new talent in mind who want to understand how things like intellectual property work in television production. During the Summer School, bringing together groups of 250 11-14 year olds for two days and 250 15-18 year olds for two additional days, the eight workshops offered an extremely wider variety of career windows.

Recognized professional roles may disappear

During the event, Rise MD Carrie Wootten said, “We’ve traditionally waited for people to come to us because we’ve been overwhelmed with interested people. But that has changed significantly.

LinkedIn photo of Carrie Wootten

“What we’re trying to do is give young people a taste of all sorts of different paths in the industry, whether it’s new technologies via IP, more traditional engineering technologies, post -production, graphics or fast-growing areas like streaming and virtual production,” she added. “We want to see them find where their passions lie.”

It was highly unlikely that students enjoying the overview of different career paths would all name the same studio as their favorite?

“Some of them will come out of Summer School loving virtual production. But others will actually say I want to go build a gallery in a TV studio and do outdoor broadcast work,” Wootten said. “Skills are key. But with other new roles coming in all the time, some established roles may soon disappear.”

What was the purpose of the summer school then? “It was originally an idea on a piece of paper I had in March,” Wootten said. “There were twin things to address – the current skills shortage, we have an aging white male workforce and we have this lack of diversity in the industry.”

“What we were trying to achieve with the summer school is to look at these issues and attract a pool of new talent who wants to work in our industry. We need that,” Wootten added.” We’ve involved over 40 companies, over 100 volunteers, and now it’s become this whole big project.”

The next step is to take what the summer school has achieved and build on it.

“If we’re going to achieve what we want as an industry, which is to solve the skills crisis and the diversity problem, we have to expand that,” Wootten said. “We need to reach large numbers of young people and inspire, educate and inform them about the television industry. This is the pipeline.

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“The youngest kids we worked with in our previous Rise Up Academy workshops were nine years old. There are high schools you have to go to and then there are high schools you want to go to after that. not go to college or can’t afford to go,” she added. “If college isn’t for you, then we need to look at creating other pathways into in the industry at 18.”

Conversion is also underway

Television has no shortage of people interested in the industry, and there is talent out there.

“We haven’t told them how to get into our industry and what skills they need. And I’ve had people ask me if we’re going to do an adult version of summer school. In terms of retraining and retraining, that has got to be something I have to look at over the next year,” Wootten said.

But building on the first summer school, which was largely an experiment, comes with a hurdle.

“I would love to do this in Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, and in Devon or Cornwall. I would like DCMS to give us some money. We need the government to give us funding because the industry media is huge in the UK and it generates huge revenue for UK plc,” said Wootten.

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“The critical aspect of the summer school was the practical aspect. The workshops had nothing to do with lessons. Everyone was creating something in every workshop. This allows them to think: “I can have a career; I can do this for work. They don’t get that from school,” she added.

Work collaboratively

The workshops – all supported by six people and reflecting the levels of ethnic diversity that companies like BT Sport, ITV and Sky are urgently looking for – focused on things like creating live streams, mixing vision in the cloud, post-production (including VFX, editing and color grading) and adding graphics the traditional way over video.

It was the latter that highlighted the rapid changes we’ve seen in workflows, with graphics now being rendered or generated on the device each viewer is watching on, not being indelibly marked on the video.

“You don’t necessarily need a degree in broadcasting to get into the media. Show passion and willingness to try something new…”

Suddenly, different sponsors, different languages, and many interactive perks are getting involved in customization. Frankie, a student we met during the livestream session, said her interest had been sparked and she wanted to work in film with Sky.

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“The comments from the first group of students, from session to session, showed that one kid said something was really boring, but another kid said the same thing was the most amazing thing ever. is the whole idea of ​​the summer school, giving them that experience,” Wootten said. the academy.”

Coming from medical training

Mirusha Jegatheeswaran, Content Technology Support Engineer at ITV Daytime and Rise Women in Broadcast 2021 mentee, explained how she got into the industry in keynote speeches to both summer school age groups. And it was no surprise that they were fully engaged.

His presence at ITV Daytime is a boost for the diversity campaign, as well as a clear sign that broadcasters should recruit from other industries.

“I come from a non-audiovisual background. I studied computer systems engineering, and that’s what I’m doing in my first media job,” she said. “I originally worked in healthcare with the NHS, so moving from medical training to broadcasting was a challenge.

“I was ready because I’m someone who likes to learn new things. I explained that you don’t necessarily need a degree in broadcasting to get into media. Show passion and willingness to try something new and a desire to advance in the industry, and recruiters would love to hire you,” she added.

Jegatheeswaran is said to be keen to help Rise as he develops adult retraining businesses. She confessed, “I didn’t know anything about broadcast media and the technology used in the industry, and I’m still learning on the job.

“I can proudly say that ITV didn’t look at my previous experiences. I’m the first woman they’ve brought into the team, and that’s something to cherish,” she added. “And I want to continue to encourage more women to enter the industry.

“The more mistakes you make, the more lessons you learn, hence why I chose this industry. I know that when I mess things up I still learn and I have very understanding colleagues who are always helpful and want to get the best out of me.

To learn more about Rise Up Academy and the important work it does, read The Rise Up Academy: Helping media technology solve its skills crisis


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