Skillset’s report digested: Is there a skills gap amongst new journalism recruits?

As reported yesterday, Skillset, the training and skills organisation for creative industries, has released a new report suggesting a critical skills gap in new journalism recruits to the newspaper and magazine industries. The new report is a culmination of year-long research and suggests the gap has been exposed by the advancement of digital technology in the sectors.

Some key reactions and findings of the research are rounded up below:

  • Skillset commented in the Guardian that traditional skills are ‘becoming even more important so that customers are prepared to pay for high quality content’.
  • The latest multimedia and technical skills are critical to freelancers in the current environment, the report suggested.
  • The general message from the report is that journalists need to adapt to the huge impact that the recession and technological change have had on the publishing industry. A spokesperson from Skillset spoke to Journalism.co.uk about the importance of applying core skills such as editing and interviewing to new technical skills. Skillset also place an emphasis on creativity and the importance of flexiblity.
  • An additional survey previously published by the body,  the Convergence Journalism Skills survey, discusses how in the future the merging worlds of print, radio, TV and online will require journalists to be confident working across these different platforms.
  • Skillset’s executive director of policy and development, Kate O’Connor, quoted in Guardian, said training can be one of the first things neglected in difficult financial times.  O’Connor underlined the importance of investing in the future. She also pointed out how vital it is for journalists to learn these new digital skills ‘if the industry is to survive and thrive’.
  • Loraine Davies, director of the Periodical Training Council, told Journalism.co.uk ‘that graduates from the 14 PTC accredited journalism courses have all the skills they need to make a meaningful contribution to the brand from the outset’.
  • But Davies recognised that students key skills are not at the expected level when they begin their courses. The solution? ”More must be done earlier in the education process to ensure students have grasped the basics.”

There appears to be a consensus among professionals that skills training needs to be revised in order for journalists to compete and succeed in this developing media industry. One of the key messages to journalists in the Skillset report was not only to fine tune their core and technological skills, but to be flexible and adapt well to change.

As Gail Rebuck, Skillset board member, told the Guardian: “It is important that the industry understands and moves with the market so the skills gap this report has identified does not continue to grow.”

Related: The National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) skills survey from November last year.

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