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Young, Bright and Under-Informed - The Challenge Facing Film, TV and Games 'Aspirants'

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The film, television and games industries are some of the most competitive industries to work in, and at no time is that more true than at the beginning of a young person's career. Finding a route in - being in the right place at the right time - is a test of initiative and endurance.

Yet there is no shortage of people wanting to work in the industries. Thousands of students on the country's media courses will attest to the fact that a career in our industries
is highly prized - in fact 57% of the young people we surveyed in the recent BAFTA Career Pathways Survey have at one time considered working in film, television or games.

So, given all of this, why would we want to encourage more people to enter these industries?

The answer is that it isn't volume we are after. As an organisation which champions creative excellence, BAFTA wants people to be judged on talent and aptitude rather than who they know or how long they are able to work for free. That way, we all win - and ideally the end result is more diverse, balanced and ultimately better creative industries.

We decided to speak to young people to get a better picture of how they are guided in their careers - the first time BAFTA has ever investigated this issue in such depth. We looked at all the issues that affect young peoples' career decisions; from how this group accesses information, how easy it is to understand the process by which one enters film, television and games, to what sources of information have proved most reliable or useful.

The results gave us a wealth of information that overall, gives us an idea of the scale of the challenge. Young people who are actively aspiring to a career in film, television or games appear to be particularly dissatisfied with formal careers advice, with just 9% believing they received excellent careers advice, while over a third said it was extremely unhelpful or did not help them much at all to choose a career. For a quarter of this group, contact with people already working in their chosen industry was their most useful source of advice, compared to the general population, who found careers advisors at school, college or university most useful .

The research reveals a perception among young people and those who advise them, that the film, TV and games industries are harder to break into if you are from particular backgrounds or don't have family connections - and young women are more likely to be discouraged from these careers than men. The young people surveyed told us that clear advice and information about the best routes in is hard to find. The task of understanding the breadth of skills and the different roles available in the industries is a bigger challenge than it should be - particularly when you consider the availability of resources such as BAFTA Guru, which provides valuable insight into the experiences of some of the most successful names in film, television and games.

Worryingly, of those who are actively looking to go into these industries and received unsatisfying careers advice, one in six were actively discouraged from their chosen path. This compares to just one in ten respondents being discouraged from a career option overall - suggesting that careers advice to aspiring television, film or games professionals is more likely to be discouraging, compared with other career choices.

We don't want our report to be seen as an indictment of careers advisors, parents or teachers. Our parallel survey of BAFTA members reveals that there is no single route into the industries. Half of our members - some of the most accomplished film, TV and games makers in the country - started their professional lives in a different industry. It is little wonder that we present a confusing picture, but it is clear that there is work to be done.

As an industry we need to open up a dialogue with careers advisors, parents, teachers and young people to aid their understanding of what skills we are looking for and how young people can demonstrate them. We should explode the elitism - real and perceived - inherent in our industries.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) will host a Career Pathways Summit on November 15th, where industry and careers experts will aim to find practical solutions to the current barriers faced by young people.