At DEGNZ we undertake a considerable amount of professional development to advance the craft of directing and editing. We are not the only screen industry guild or association to do so.
Right now however, there is a confluence of activity occurring in the education sector that will have a significant impact on the screen industry, hopefully for the better.
In August, the Government announced the Reform of Vocational Education. This comes in part, I believe, because of the decline in the apprenticeship system that was brought about by a radical restructuring and liberalisation of the economy and education sector by the fourth Labour Government in the 1980s.
The inability of Polytechnics to financially survive is another reason. Case in point is Unitec in Auckland’s Mt Albert, the country’s largest institute of Technology. Unitec has been in financial difficulty for years, and this has long been known in the screen industry. Whitirea and WelTec are two others in the same boat.
It’s clear though that the workplace is changing. Lower skilled jobs are disappearing because of automation and other factors, while new jobs are coming to the fore. These new jobs need increased training to upskill the workforce for the new roles being created.
What’s all this got to do with us?
Well, as we know the Creative Sector is a funny old beast. Most of us are contractors and there are few large companies. But, we will continue to undergo rapid change due to technology, and more importantly, there is a crew shortage due to the significant level of production activity happening here. Consequently, there is a need to encourage more workers into the industry and to train them to meet the demand.
The Government is looking to the Reform of Vocational Education to bring about seven key changes that they hope will create a unified vocational education system:
- Create Workforce Development Councils (WDC) to give industry greater leadership across vocational education.
- Establish Regional Skills Leadership Groups to provide advice about the skills needs of their regions.
- Establish Te Taumata Aronui to help ensure that the Reform of Vocational Education reflects the Government’s commitment to Māori Crown partnerships.
- Create a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, bringing together the existing 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), such as Unitec, Whitirea and WelTec.
- Shift the role of supporting workplace learning from Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) to providers.
- Establish Centres of Vocational Excellence to grow excellent vocational education provision and share high-quality curriculum and programme design across the system.
- Unify the vocational education funding system.
The Tertiary Education Commission is now proposing to establish a industry specific training organisation for the Creative Sector, something the industry hasn’t had before. This WDC would be the voice of industry, participating in a virtuous circle with employers, educational providers and educational bodies to help ensure a focused and effective approach to vocational training.
At the same time, The Screen Industry Guild of Aotearoa NZ (Techos) is seeking to implement tactical initiatives to get more skilled workers on the ground fast. They are working together in the Auckland region with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), who are making a concerted effort to build capability in this area, too. There is a national focus on vocational training for all sectors including the Creative Sector, to ensure the regions benefit as well. The Film Commission, the guilds and numerous other bodies and organisations are looking at supporting this push to shape education for our sector.
It is interesting to observe that the concept of apprenticeships in the Creative Sector is a topic of conversation that has risen to the surface as all of this goes on. At DEGNZ, we have made a real effort this year in the area of assistant editors and we have often discussed an apprenticeship-style model. Our director attachments for TV drama, while definitively not apprenticeships, do deliver the on the job-training that epitomises apprenticeship schemes.
For many in the screen industry, the key to success can often be just getting out there and practising the craft. There’s no doubt though that the formal approach of vocational training will better equip many to find their way into the industry and help ensure sunstainable careers in an ever-changing workplace environment.