If you’re old, too bad babs…
“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.” -Alex Mahon, Chief Executive, Channel 4
From 2022 4Skills, Channel 4’s training and development strategy, will create over 15,000 opportunities nationwide with a particular focus on young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds who want a career in broadcasting.
The 4Skills strategy underlines Channel 4’s commitment not only to improving access for people into the broadcasting industry but also its commitment to the UK’s Nations and Regions. Since 2018, Channel 4 has moved 400 roles out of London and based them in Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. In terms of programme investment, in the past decade, Channel 4 has invested over £1.5 billion in content produced outside London – £250m in 2021 alone, fifty per cent of its total budget for programming. Working with over 300 independent production companies across the UK, the broadcaster contributes almost £1 billion in GVA annually and has helped to create over 10,500 jobs.
Organisationally, Channel 4 has also actively improved the socio-economic diversity of its own staff. 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. This not only 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, this 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.
The result is that the percentage of staff from non-professional socio-economic backgrounds has improved to 40% (2016: 34%)l and compared to other broadcasters, Channel 4 has the highest proportion of staff from a non-professional background (based on parental occupations).
“Channel 4 has always been the broadcaster for young people, especially those who don’t get heard or have access to opportunities because of where they live or their upbringing,” commented Alex Mahon, Chief Executive, Channel 4.