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Lights, camera, action: school leavers want to work in film & TV industry



As millions of students receive their A-level results this week, new research shows that although over half of school leavers (53%) are interested in pursuing a career in the TV and film industry, only 18% believe it is realistic for them.

Amidst a blockbuster summer of film, and Barbie fever taking the UK by storm, the research, conducted by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), reveals that despite financing, running to schedule and budget being key parts of any production process, two-thirds (67%) of school leavers think the only career opportunities are acting and creative roles. Just 4% think finance skills are essential within the industry and 5% think marketing and sales skills are.

Yet the appetite for off-screen roles is high, with six out of ten (59%) of school leavers interested in knowing about behind the scenes of films.

For young Brits, the opportunity to be involved in the industry is tantalisingly close. Many film franchises and blockbusters have been filmed in the UK including the latest Barbie film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and the latest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Last year, a record £6.27 billion was spent on film and high-end television production in the UK, giving 122,000 people a job.

However, nearly three-quarters (71%) of school leavers think the film and TV sector is too difficult to get into unless you’re well connected or know someone.

Furthermore, the research shines a light on the fact that school leavers are simply unaware of the variety of opportunities a career in accounting offers, with seven out of 10 (68%) believing careers involving finance skills are boring.

Sarah Beale, CEO at AAT, says: “Accounting jobs aren’t just in accounting firms. Every business needs to have an accounting function including film, fashion, sport, music, and marketing. There is a huge variety of sectors that accountancy professionals can work in, that offer exciting career paths and open a world of opportunity to young people.”

Millions of school leavers simply aren’t getting the counsel they need to make knowledgeable career decisions; in fact, less than half (49%) say they have received good advice and guidance in how to best pursue a career in the sector they would most like to get into.

Sarah Beale continues: “It’s worrying that so many school leavers don’t feel they are getting the advice needed to help them make informed career decisions; especially at a time when many are keen to explore alternative routes to university and avoid hefty sums of debt. The forecast average debt among the cohort of university students who started their course in 2022/23 is £45,600 by the time they finish.

“Given squeezed family purses, it’s not surprising that 41% of UK adults think school leavers should combine ‘learning while earning’ and still enjoy a prosperous and successful career. I started off as the equivalent of an AAT apprentice myself and know first-hand how our range of courses, qualifications and apprenticeships enable school leavers to start the next stage of their lives on a secure financial footing.”

Holly Tarquini boasts extensive experience in the industry: Executive Director of FilmBath, revered F-Rated podcast host spotlighting women in film, and visionary behind the globally acclaimed F-Rating as well as years producing & directing TV documentaries. She comments: “With many school leavers making decisions about their future careers, it’s really heartening to see that so many are interested in working in the TV and film industries. But we have to make it clear that there are so many valuable skills and different routes into this sector. Finance plays a central role in TV and film in every stage of production, exhibition and distribution. Strong financial skills have been essential to me as a TV producer, a film festival director and as a mentor to others in the film industry. Film and TV is for everyone; not just those who act!” 

Many young Brits are already gaining skills and a passion for film, with more than half (51%) enjoying filming and creating their own content for social media and four out of ten (40%) are their family and friends go-to person for film recommendations.

AAT offers a wide range of accountancy and bookkeeping qualifications which are open to everyone across the UK, regardless of age or previous experience. To find out more and see which course is right for you, please visit the AAT website.

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