Profound skills shortages in creative industries, says BBC boss

Tom Horton, PA

There are “profound skills shortages” in the UK’s creative industries, BBC director-general Tim Davie has said.

Speaking at the Creative Cities Convention, Mr Davie said he would “like to do more” in creating apprenticeship programmes to ensure people have the skills to work in the sector.

He made the comments during an event with broadcaster Kirsty Wark where he discussed the BBC’s plans to shift some of its operations outside London.

Tim Davie
Tim Davie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Davie said there is “absolutely no doubt we have profound skills shortages” in the creative industries, adding: “Only this morning, today, I’ve been talking to people about some of the skills shortages, technical skills, production, accounting, all the various things in my sector you need to get production under way.

“There’s actually real skill shortages.”

He added the BBC “obviously” needs to have its own apprenticeship training programmes to ensure it has a workforce that can meet its needs.

In its 2021-23 plan, the BBC previously said it will give a “significant boost” to the number of apprenticeships offered each year.

Mr Davie said the BBC could become an “apprenticeship training agency” that works with other organisations to help ensure there is an adequately skilled workforce.

“I think big entities like the BBC can provide more infrastructure, more support, ensure that those apprenticeships can have the flexibility but the support from the bigger players,” he said.

BBC
In March the BBC announced plans to ensure it better reflects all parts of the UK (Ian West/PA)

“And that’s what we’re trying to do, get very granular about it.

“I think there’s a lot of words spoken, but actually going to an area and saying we have vacancies for three hundred people in terms of production design, we think there’ll be 100 vacancies in terms of lighting engineers.

“That’s what I want to get to in a really detailed plan.”

Mr Davie also said the BBC should remain “healthily paranoid” about the value it offers in return for the licence fee.

“If most households don’t feel they’re getting £159 of value from the BBC, we’re in trouble,” he said.

“And at the moment we’re doing pretty well.”

He said trying to change the culture within the BBC is “daunting”, adding: “But that’s what I’m here to do and I think there’s a real spirit in the BBC to say, look, the world has changed.

“We need to get on with it and we need to be relevant to every household.”

In March the BBC announced plans to ensure it better reflects all parts of the UK.

The broadcaster will shift away from London over the next six years in what it billed as its “biggest transformation in decades”.