Freelancers on BTSR

Access, flexibility and cost were three of the key training challenges highlighted by broadcasting industry freelancers at an event hosted last week by the UK Broadcast Training and Skills Regulator (BTSR) in partnership with BAFTA.

The event, which attracted 110 delegates from a range of disciplines, was designed to provide freelancers with an opportunity to share training experiences and insights, to explore weaknesses and gaps in current training provision, and to find out how they can benefit from the UK's TV Freelance Training Fund administered by Skillset.

As part of the evening's programme, chaired by independent producer and broadcaster Roger Bolton, delegates were given the chance to take part in an on-the-spot electronic vote that threw up some disturbing results:

  • 66% had received no training in the last year;
  • 57% had never been offered training by their employers;
  • 57% had never been asked in a job interview about what training they had undertaken; and
  • 67% didn't know about the TV Freelance Training Fund.

Unsurprisingly, 93% also said they wished that employers provided more training and without this type of support in place, the main barriers to getting more training were cost and lack of information and concerns about quality and fitness for purpose.

A similar but more detailed picture emerged in the group sessions that followed, where delegates were encouraged to share their experiences with training, describe what 'good' training would look like and think ahead to the future.

Low quality standards emerged as one of the key issues, with concerns expressed that training is more of a 'job for the teachers' rather than a positive learning experience for trainees. Poor access to training information was another issue that was highlighted, as was value for money in terms of the financial and time commitment required. The fact that much of the industry appears not to value training for freelancers can make it seem a costly and unrewarding experience for many.

Looking at training on a wider scale across the industry, the BTSR is also currently nearing the completion of a major broadcaster self-assessment and reporting process on training.