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‘Facilities' is the collective term for a group of sub-sectors (including: Outside Broadcast; Studios and Equipment Hire; Post Production; and Special Physical Effects), which offer support services for the creative industries. It also includes post-production, studio and equipment hire, special physical effects, outside broadcast, processing laboratories, transmission, manufacture of audio visual equipment and other services for film and TV.

Since 2000, the facilities workforce as a whole has increased from approximately 13,000 to 45,050 in 2006. In particular, post-production, studio and equipment hire and special physical effects workforces have increased significantly since 2002. An average 10.1 hour day is worked by the studio and equipment hire workforce, 9.7 hours by the post production workforce and 9.6 hours by the special physical effects workforce. These are all longer than the average day worked across the UK creative industries as a whole of 9.3 hours a day.

The facilities industry is reported to be facing significant changes in technology and from overseas competition. Although there are advantages to knowing the latest software, the rate of technical development moves at such a pace that this knowledge can be made obsolete quickly. Employers cite the value of soft skills in addition to technical skills, including customer service, speaking and self presentation, good timekeeping and self organisation, plus good numeracy / literacy skills and attention to detail.

Key statistics:

  • 45,050 people are employed in facilities, which is around 9% of the creative media workforce.
  • There are 3,900 companies in the industry and only 5% have 51 or more employees (including just 1% that has more than 200 employees).
  • 78% of the industry is located in London, the East of England and the South East.
  • 32% of the workforce is freelance or self-employed.
  • 67% of the workforce is male.
  • 5.2% of the workforce is from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background.
  • 47% of the workforce is under 35 years.
  • 6% report themselves as having a disability.
  • 59% of the special physical effects workforce is graduates, 63% in post production and 52% in studio and equipment hire.

Usually, no specific qualifications are required to enter this industry, although relevant technical degrees or equivalent qualifications are useful. Engineering or IT degrees are useful, together with relevant technical degrees or equivalent qualifications, such as a Foundation Degree in Broadcast Operations and Production. Good technical knowledge is extremely important, and sometimes a formal engineering qualification may be required. Personality and communication skills are important at entry. Successful entry and progression through some industries require a Showreel that displays the candidates key skills (such as editing in visual effects, physical effects).

The majority of employers use informal methods of recruitment, such as personal contact with individuals or industry networks and contacts.

The most common skills that need improving are: engineering; editing; technical equipment skills; motion capture; use of specific software; general industry experience; and general business skills. Across specific sub-sectors, specific skills gaps and shortages are reported in:

  • Outside Broadcast – Vision engineers and other high calibre technical staff
  • Studios with Equipment and Equipment Hire – Vision Engineers; Productions assistants (particularly in Manchester and the north of England); Pyrotechnic stage hands; IT technicians/engineers; high definition technical staff; Electricians in equipment hire
  • Post Production – IT competent staff with knowledge of file based media; Business skills around sales, negotiation and client management
  • Special Physical Effects – Staff with combined technical and artistic skills

The largest occupational groups within the facilities industry are: other occupational groups e.g. finance, HR, IT, sales and general management (8,300); post production (7,900); lighting (5,100); library/archives (4,000); broadcast engineering (2,700); and art and design (2,100). Special Effects, though one of the smallest occupational groups within the industry, is one of the most prestigious. Special effects are a small and specialist area, and entry is difficult. Media and graphics courses are available, but new entrants will still have to shadow those working above them for some time before they have the experience to progress.

As with the wider creative industries, the facilities industry has a large proportion of its workforce in the south, with 78% of the industry operating in London, the East of England and the South East.

Source: Skillset AACS LMI report 2010 and Facilities Labour Market Intelligence 2009