Reframing work experience opportunities

Widening access to the screen industries and helping to ensure talented people are able to take up opportunities to work in this sector is central to SIGN’s mission. We are announcing the start of our new placements, internships and insights scheme to help widen access and provide opportunities to people from under represented and marginalised groups. This programme will provide funding to businesses working in the screen industries, in Yorkshire and the Humber, to help them to provide work related opportunities for up to three months. 

Most people think of placements, internships and work shadowing (insight) opportunities as a way for students in particular to get valuable professional work experience. These well established routes allow students and graduates to discover new industries and explore job roles to support their decision making towards possible careers. It can be difficult or even impossible for some people however to get this important experience. People who are changing careers, those who are returning to the workforce, and others who haven’t had these opportunities as part of their educational path could also benefit from placement opportunities.

The benefits of placements don’t stop with the participants though. There are many documented advantages to businesses too. One of the most obvious benefits to companies is that participation in such schemes has become a recognised and hugely helpful way of developing a talent pipeline. This in turn brings in fresh ideas and offers new perspectives on old problems. 

Diversity, lack of access and lack of opportunity are all challenges facing the recruitment and progression of talented people to the screen industries. In our series of short films, Industry Voices, recently produced with Candour Productions, we show the depth of the diversity crisis in the screen industries and the pain that exclusion causes, both personally and professionally. The barriers to getting into and on in the industry for some people are plain to see.

The very nature of the unstructured hiring processes and practices across many screen sector businesses compounds the problem and means that those without contacts or established networks may encounter significant barriers to both entry and progression. It is vital that businesses across the screen industries take action to allow and encourage people from under-represented and excluded groups to utilise their talents to the benefit of all.

Emerging autistic director, Lily Levin, recently told us:The opportunity to shadow different directors on different projects would help people like myself to identify access barriers and create a useful access rider before embarking on their own projects, meaning they will be more likely to get a decent stab at it. Without this sort of opportunity, often your first job becomes a bit of a dummy run – you only know what your access is for certain jobs once you’ve experienced the environment. Autistic people will also benefit from being able to process an environment and its ever changing variables before picking ingredients to take onto their own set – it takes away the barrier of the unknown.”

We know and understand that a diverse workforce helps productivity. It helps creativity and builds an inclusive company culture where differences are acknowledged and valued. Many individuals find this attractive when looking to work with or for a business.

As an important and much needed step in the right direction, SIGN’s new placement, internship and insight programme will offer funding to establish and offer opportunities to small businesses in the screen industries who are based in Yorkshire and the Humber to host someone from an underrepresented group to work with them for up to three months.

It is vital that the shift in the screen industries to become more inclusive begins now. For the benefit of individuals, companies and the sector more widely, change needs to happen. We need to become allies to those affected by lack of opportunity or access and start to make these vibrant and creative industries more inclusive.

Find out more about our placements, internships and insights scheme and how your business can get involved.