Manimation 2019 – Forum: ScreenSkills and the Animation Skills Council

Posted on: Thursday 14 November 2019 12:09am by Helen Dugdale

Tom Box: PowerPoint

ScreenSkills is an industry-led body which offers training and funding. Under the chairmanship of Tom Box, who is Chair of the Animation Skills Fund, which guides ScreenSkills in their priorities, invited guests shared training opportunities already available and guest and delegates also shared thoughts on what animation companies would like to see as future training initiatives.

ScreenSkills training available:

The Helen North Achieve Programme – growing the careers of women in animation. It offers great networking opportunities as well as expanding skillsets and job opportunities. 72 women have been on the programme so far.

CPD developments – freelance sessions, masterclass sessions, return to work training and 2D training.

Storyboarding is a recognised skills gap. ScreenSkills will be offering storyboarding training in 2020 with Lupus and another partner outside London.

3D animation training – training university students to run courses for 11-16 year olds.

Back to School initiative/new careers map to promote animation as a future career.

They want to cover all ages and stages of working within animation from school right up to CPD.


Here are some key comments from the hour-long session on industry experience and priorities going forward:


What have you struggled with?

Learning financial stuff as well as honing our creative offer.”

“Mapping different paths as to how the studios grow would be interesting.”

We didn’t know ScreenSkills existed until someone signposted us to it … more signposting.”

There needs to be more help on key business skills: employment law, HR training, how to deal with compassionate issues and to recognise mental health and stress issues. It’s a hidden area and people don’t talk about it but it’s key. Plus, how to negotiate a production contract.”

Lack of knowledge outside the industry about animation businesses, particularly amongst those dealing with the money/funds.”

Our business models are not the same. There are many different types of businesses and no-one teaches you this.  Networking with each other is so important and we need to encourage more of it.”

Knowledge sharing is very important. A platform for knowledge exchange. Scratch each other’s backs. Everyone in the industry wants to succeed.”


Training for big studios vs small studios – Do they share the same issues when it comes to training?

Brownbag – “Training has a massive impact on our retention. Doubling the staff workforce brought with it the need for training in workplace behavioural skills, especially amongst entry level staff. We also facilitate creative training across the business and programme for management and leadership training. Behaviour in the industry is slightly introverted we don’t– communicate, negotiate and collaborate with each other. This needs focus.”

Trainee finder has been amazing for us.”


Funding needs to represent nations and regions:

When you have to travel to Orkney or Penzance for a training course you give up a lot of time and money. We need to engage with people closer to where they are – using technology sitting at their desk.”

Freelancers are really important to us. We’re wanting to take on new skills, but digital and modular learning would be hugely valuable.

Brownbag ran a survey to find out how staff like to learn: The results showed they wanted a blended learning approach virtual and face to face.

“Motion North runs a great training events in Manchester. Tap into forums around the country to put together and deliver the training. Utilise the universities and their resources. “


What Would Help Freelancers?

50% of the animation industry is made up of freelancers. There is a section on the ScreenSkills website for more information  – sign up!

“Manchester is getting better, but if there are one or two productions on then you struggle to find talent. You feel the guilt that you want to have people full-time but there just isn’t enough work.”

Find a way to help share freelance talent between the industry to help businesses and individuals  – especially where there is funding available.”

Manimation wouldn’t have happened without the skills fund – please continue to support it.”

Manimation Blog

Helen Dugdale

About the author

Helen Dugdale

Scribble, Writer/PR Consultant

Helen is founder of Scribble - the little, but mighty PR and writing agency based in Altrincham. She has over 18 years experience writing for and promoting events and brands aimed at children and families. Helen has written and created content for children’s books, educational resources, TV and radio and… Read more