Channel 4 says it will create over 15,000 training and development opportunities from 2022 with a focus on young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds who want a career in broadcasting.

The broadcaster is to invest £15 million over the next three years through its 4Skills iniative, which launched in 2020 and is based in the broadcaster’s national HQ in Leeds city centre.

C4 training - alex mahon

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon

For those wanting to get into broadcasting for the first time, 4Skills will be offering over 200 entry level roles in 2022.

The roles – the vast majority of which will be salaried - will range from training in digital skills with 4Studios in Leeds to apprenticeship programmes and production training schemes across the UK. The roles will provide people with between three and eighteen month opportunities either within Channel 4 itself or with independent production company partners, and will include training and mentoring to enable them to continue their careers in broadcasting.

For people already working in the industry, 4Skills will work with organisations to offer training courses, funding for specific training funds, bursaries and placements as well as training days in Channel 4’s own regional offices in Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester.

In terms of schools, 4Skills is designing a series of activities and sessions to raise awareness of careers in production and digital skills. Aimed primarily at Key Stage 3 pupils (11-14 year olds) in disadvantaged areas as well as SEND schools, the initiatives will be a combination of face-to-face and virtual events. Additionally, Channel 4 will also work with schools and colleges to offer 500 work experience opportunities of up to a week for students up to the age of 21. Channel 4 will meet the costs for participants.

Channel 4 will be working with a range of partners across the country including Creative Wales, Screen Scotland and Northern Ireland Screen, along with the National Film and Television School and ScreenSkills.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “Everyone should have an equal chance to follow their dreams and have a job in the creative industries. It shouldn’t be about having certain qualifications but about passion and potential.

Sinead Rocks, managing director of Channel 4 Nations and Regions, leading 4Skills added: “4Skills will have a long-term and lasting impact on learning and skills provision for young people across the country and ultimately it is the audience that will benefit. The people that we train, develop and work with will contribute their own diversity of opinion and life experience to programme making, resulting in content that better reflects the whole of the UK.”

Organisationally, Channel 4 has sought to improve the socio-economic diversity of its own staff recently.

It has removed a number of barriers for entry, and improved the application process and experience for candidates. For example, requirements for academic qualifications have been removed unless they are absolutely essential for the role, and on-demand video technology has been introduced into the application process. The broadcaster says this enables candidates to complete initial interviews in their own time but also negates the need to take time off work or incur unnecessary travel costs. Additionally, it mitigates the chance of unconscious bias by allowing applications to be seen by a wider number of people within Channel 4 itself.

More recently, Channel 4 has launched a number of paid schemes for people from diverse backgrounds looking to start a career in the media. These include internships in a number of departments including Legal and Compliance, digital content production and data research. In some cases, participants have subsequently secured roles within Channel 4.

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