A report for the British Film Institute by the consultancy, Olsberg SPI, has underlined the global reputation of the UK's digital content producers and describes them as a critical element of the UK's creative industries as well as the wider tech industries.
The researchers examined animation, visual FX, post-production and video games, and quantified the economic contribution of these categories and their potential for future growth. Global demand for digital content during the COVID pandemic supported expansion of businesses in these fields in recent years. With digital and innovation at their core, these sectors are also integral components identified by the government in the wider UK Creative Industries Sector Vision, published in June 2023) as having the potential to generate an additional £50 billion in GVA (gross value added) a year by 2030.
However, the authors say that targeted and continued skills development is essential for ensuring that the future growth of UK digital content companies is sustainable, especially against international competition from Canada, France, Ireland, and Spain.
The report highlights the impact of AI technology, increased competition for talent, and fluctuating commissioning spend as a result of developments such as the US writers' strike, as three uncertainties digital content producers are confronting.
As a result of sector-specific and cross-sectoral challenges, companies across the UK’s digital content production sectors struggle to establish effective and sustainable skills training programmes. Training provision is impacted differently in each of the digital content production sectors, due to a variety of business models and markets.
While larger established businesses are more likely to have well financed training programmes, smaller businesses regularly lack the funds and capacity for sustained skills training. VFX and post-production companies function as service providers, and often struggle to secure skilled workers for price-sensitive, competitive domestic and international contracts. Moreover, longer term contracts in these areas are often difficult to secure.
The report, published by the BFI's Research and Statistics Fund, includes several recommendations including:
Read the report.