A lot of what I currently do is about training placements. Across the diverse sectors my employer works in, there’s different interpretations of what work-based training should be. In an ideal world they’ve got a structure, the trainee gets paid something approaching the going rate for entry level, and there’s a damn strong chance of employment at the end. Which is why web, mobile or interactive companies are often my favourite to deal with in those situations. These industries are immature, which causes problems, but generally, they get it, why you need to do this.
But other industries – let’s specifically name TV and film – are so overwhelmed by countless waves of people desparate to enter an industry they understand so little of, that over time these businesses expect free labour – imagine presenting that in your business plan. Industries which at the same time bemoan the poor quality of entry-level talent. Admitted, they are privileged industries to work in, but it’s still work. Otherwise careers are only open to those who can afford to work unpaid. Which means a homogenous mass of decreasingly interesting programming concieved by a homegenous mass of middle class white people with a shrinking frame of reference where ideas can only cannibalise each other.
This situation isn’t sustainable and could contribute to a skills crisis in tv production especially. What I believe it hints at is a cultural and behavioural shift within tv that needs to take place, and is in certain notable places: the need to act a bit more like digital. But no need to panic: you don’t need to gain any more weight, or start wearing t-shirts of obscure bands, or nurture a Babylon 5 obsession.