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Strong collaboration to address skills shortage

The Media Collective training network is committed to developing new professional training programmes for the audiovisual industry throughout Germany.

They are missing – from all sides, skilled workers. And their much-cited shortage has also existed in the audiovisual industry for some time. It’s not only the demographic change that’s leaving gaps. The streaming productions, which have been dominating the market for the past five to six years, have triggered a boom in production and are committing skilled workers for a longer period to TV or cinema productions. In addition, there is an exodus to other industries. Fewer people answering job vacancies, and a lack of young talent in positions such as production accountant, line producer, assistant director or production manager are already having an impact. This is shown by a nationwide study published in October by “Media Collective – Der Weiterbildungsverbund Medien”. The network – based at the Erich Pommer Institut (EPI) and funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) – is taking steps to connect industry players with one another and develop more focused training programmes to meet the industry’s needs.

Increased pressure of work and lowering of quality standards

The difficulties in filling positions affect almost all of the positions in audiovisual production. 88% of the companies interviewed for the study reported an increased pressure of work due to the lack of personnel. 77% of the filmmakers themselves also complained about psychological stress as well as work pressure, but. And almost every second company reported rising production costs and the lowering of quality standards due to insufficient personnel.

The Media Collective training network was set up at the Erich Pommer Institut (EPI) after the issue had already been discussed there for several years by people working in the industry. A roundtable of the leading German film production companies was convened to discuss such questions as “What is needed?” and “What can we do?”. The resulting ideas and concepts are now being developed within the network’s working groups, and the EPI has since received national funding in order to serve as the network’s project manager.

It is important for CEO Philipp Künstle that Media Collective is regarded as an overarching, non-profit project that is independent of the EPI’s other programmes. “We are working together with all of the Länder and are in an ongoing dialogue with companies and institutions to see where the needs are now that have to be met and how we can support this.”

New career paths through targeted training programmes

Künstle cites the concept of the dual system of training – usually designed in the form of compact, intensive courses – as being an important lever. They enable filmmakers to embark on the next steps in their careers. The big challenge is to train up people more quickly for positions that often require ten years of professional experience. Further education can be a way of solving the problem. It also creates lower barriers to entry and prepare those interested from other industries for making a change.

Denise Grduszak is the project manager for the training network and explains the next steps. Working groups each with a different focus were established. One group with a focus on political communication is promoting the visibility of the issues in the political arena and taking charge of attracting funding, while another working group is dealing specifically with professional training in the region and monitoring the skills needs of individual companies in order to take the next step and devise training programmes that specifically address the identified needs. “It is a question here of seeing the region and the companies as a community and putting a focus on coordinated cooperation,” Grduszak says.

A working group is also looking at the job profiles in the industry. Up until now, there hadn’t been any uniform standards. Universities train people according to different criteria; moreover, there are various kinds of apprenticeships and “training on-the-job” programmes. What does a person have to be able to do – what social skills and know-how should they possess? The work of the network will result at best in a pre-formulated catalogue of skills needed for the occupational profiles and one on which the sector can ideally agree on a national level – a checklist as a basis for more uniform professional qualifications.

Skills for the future

“At the moment, a lot of new things are emerging with AR, VR, digital production. Work processes are shifting from post-production to preproduction. Certain skills are now needed much earlier on the set, and other skills are ones we’ve tended to see as being at home in the games sector – that’s why we think in terms of skills,” Künstle says.

In order to counter the shortage of skilled workers, it’s important for the network to act on a national level and to create low entry barriers for career changers. After all, there is an interest in the audiovisual industry, as can be seen, for example, in pilot projects in Hamburg and Hesse, according to Grduszak. In Hamburg, for example, the “Get on Set” trainee programme works together with partner companies to offer training for various film professions, from production accountant through production management to assistant director, sound, props, make-up, costume or post-production. The “Hessen Steps” programme was launched in Hessen using education vouchers to cover the costs of further education for career changers, provide financial support for traineeships at companies, and support up-and-coming screenwriters in developing of new film story ideas.

As part of the MediaTech Hub, EPI and Media Collective are immediate neighbours of the Hub management. The team is currently working from Babelsberg on establishing the network on a national level. At the same time, it is concentrating on programmes that are located in the region. Media Collective is currently wanting to find media companies in Berlin and Brandenburg who will offer traineeships providing on-the-job training and onboarding programmes for career changers and career break returners in close cooperation with the network.

Leading companies and institutions such as the Bundesverband Produktion, the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, the Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg (ILB), media:net berlinbrandenburg, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Netflix, PAIQ Produzentenallianz Initiative für Qualifikation, REAL FILM, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Studio Babelsberg, UFA GmbH, we are era and the Economic Development Agency Brandenburg are already participating in Media Collective’s network.

Photo: Vadim Tashbaev on Pixabay