Training is the industry's lifeblood.' So said a senior UK film figure this week in support of a government plan to create an apprenticeship system funded by a new mandatory levy on producers.

Unsurprisingly, a number of independent film producers in the territory can see the potential costs rather more than the benefits to them.

There's also a chequered history for such schemes stretching back to the Eady Levy. And somewhere along the line, the consultation process seems to have bypassed a lot of those directly affected.

But going back to the core point, there is a strong argument that skills and training are a serious issue for the UK and beyond. Markets with a mature film industry have no choice but to make the quality of skills a major part of their competitive arguments against often much cheaper facilities and bigger tax incentives in emerging nations.

Those claims have a shelf life, however; particularly at a time of rapid advances in technology. Being the best at yesterday's way of doing business is the surest road to obsolescence.

Redirecting some of the financial investment from Hollywood productions into creating a sustainable long-term business seems sensible enough - because the trickle-down theory, whereby a studio shoot creates wealth and skills that can then be put to local use, works better in theory than practice.

But many of the independent producers calling Screen this week have questioned whether the financial burden should rest with their already-stretched finances. Quite rightly, some point out that a bigger problem is that cinema is not taken seriously as an art form or business in education and consequently is losing the interest of young people.

In France, cinema is a central part of the social and cultural fabric and a genuine business - too often elsewhere it's perceived by the young as something Hollywood does or a hobby that very occasionally turns into business. Making producers pay for the lack of vision in state education seems a little rich.

But there's a bigger picture here and it goes beyond the rights or wrongs of an apprenticeship scheme, which could and should still be modified to ensure costs and benefits are fairly matched. It goes back to the idea that training is the lifeblood of film. This may seem like semantics but words sometimes betray a perception that ought to be questioned.

One might have fun allocating body parts to various industry disciplines. Like the body, the industry is made up of many vital organs, without which the whole could not exist. But there's little doubt about the lifeblood of the film industry: it's money.

And that means the heart of the independent business has to be producers. Of course there are good producers and bad producers; a few are considerably more adept at draining soft money out of government than making films anyone wants to see. But that doesn't alter the fact it is producers who have the drive, the nerve and often the creative vision to take the financial risks in the ultimate triumph of hope over experience. If we are indeed heading for a global recession - and the collected effort not to say it is becoming deafening - then those prepared to make the leap become ever more important.

Explain how the industry works to an outsider and you realise how producers put up with an astonishingly low level of recognition and reward. Part of the reason is that it's a solitary activity with little of the collective muscle on which other parts of the business can draw more easily.

That need for a stronger voice may turn into action in the UK and elsewhere in the coming years. But anyone making policies on film or drawing up grand strategies for the industry would do well to remember that without producers making films, there are no jobs for those trainees.