Davies, James

James Davies
Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
Labour entry and Skill formation in the UK TV industry
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof Jonathan Morris
Supervising school:
Cardiff Business School,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

A number of barriers to entry to the TV industry exist for young people trying to get make a career in this sector. Aspects of social class, ethnicity and gender, as well as level of education, can serve to disadvantage certain groups before they even try to gain entry. With a workforce so heavily based on freelance work, operating on a project-to-project basis via closed networks, those who do not have a personal contact to someone already ‘inside’ can find their only route to work through unpaid internships and work experience. This, in itself, can serve to exclude those without the financial support and foundation to survive for prolonged periods without an income.

In addition, the difficulty in gaining access to those established industry professionals, operating in closed social networks, raises questions over how new entrants are able to supposed to learn and develop new skills, especially in an industry where vacancies need to be filled fast, and there is no sense in taking a risk on an unproven worker, when deadlines are so tight.

The role of technological change also needs considering. Previously technical and craft jobs have been increasingly replaced with technology requiring proficiency in ICT and computing, and an increased focus on aesthetic, rather than technical, considerations. There has been a democratisation of technology, that can see the several roles (e.g. editing, sound, colouring etc.) in the production process performed by a single individual.

This project aims to explore the experiences and perceptions of those who have gained entry to the TV industry, or are trying to do so. It focuses on the routes taken to start careers, whether they be through higher education courses, corporate training schemes or unpaid internships. It will also consider the issue of skill formation. Where does this new cohort learn their skills? Do the skills they have align with the expectation of those making the decision to allow them entry? What impact has digitisation had on the expectations of the flexibilities and proficiencies of those entering into the industry?

Though the exact methodology is yet to finalised, a qualitative approach (such as in-depth interviewing) would seem to be best suited to exploring the experiences and perceptions of individuals.