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EDUCATION Training for Media Who should do it? by Martin Uren S imple enough to ask, but any possible answer to the question of who should train those working in the media industries, or more specifically the moving image industries, is complex and involves many interrelated factors. I would like to explore the issues, and maybe present some suggestions on how we might do a better job of preparing and engaging particularly the new entrants into our workforce in training and CPD (Continuous Professional Development). New entrants to our industry today are faced with a very different landscape to the one that existed twenty or more years ago. Changes have been driven by factors such as: Ever increasing pressure on costs, the digital revolution being seen as a panacea, the fragmentation of the industry into smaller organisational units and a largely freelance workforce, and a culture that does not seem to support development and training at anywhere near the levels seen in the past. Production budgets are always under pressure. The expectation that ‘digital’ means that more can be done with less, was undoubtedly true to an extent, but now we seem to have gone beyond that ‘digital dividend’ and budgets continue to be driven downwards. To meet these demands, training is often first in the firing line. It is an easy target because it has such little impact on the quality of what goes on screen. This short-termism has become culturally embedded in many parts of our industry, so it should be no 48 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 99 MARCH 2015 real surprise that now there is often a problem in recruiting suitable people into key team roles. The digital age has brought with it the perception in some that content generation and distribution has become so simple that almost anyone can do it. Digital kit is, on the whole, much more reliable these days. Some make the leap to thinking that because the systems don’t break down as much, then everything is simpler. The opposite is, of course, the case. The hardware and software systems we use are far more complicated, and the skills and knowledge needed to operate and maintain them successfully are every bit as deep as they were in the past. Using people who cost less but are lacking in relevant skills can be very expensive, even in the short term. What price do you put on a lost day’s filming because the DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) didn’t know what they were doing? Maybe dropping a runner who seemed to be able to manage their smart phone technology pretty well into the role wasn’t the best idea after all. Working life these days is different for everyone, not just in the media industries, but across all UK economic sectors. Smaller organisations have a lean and mean approach to staffing. There is no slack in the system to absorb the learning on the job from one’s peers. This ‘sitting by Nellie’ approach to informal and formal staff training taught many how to put the theory learned on a degree course or knowledge-based training course, into practice. All too often now new workers are dropped in at the deep end with a sink-or-swim philosophy. And if you do sink, well