A £50m overhaul of UK training, including the creation of a string of film schools across the country for creative and business skills, was launched on Sept 10 by support body the UK Film Council and training agency Skillset.

The annual package of £10 million for at least the next five years is aimed at attracting Britain's brightest and best into a career in the film industry.

As ScreenDaily.com reported last month, education secretary Charles Clarke said that the scheme would create so-called centres of excellence for film in the form of a new national network of Screen Academies, based in existing educational institutions across the UK.

The National Film And Television School, which is expected to come under Film Council auspices in April next year, will be the key post-graduate centre for creative skills.

It will run alongside a new film business academy geared at raising the level of business, leadership and management skills across the production, distribution and exhibition sectors. Other courses for undergraduates and higher education will be approved and kite-marked by an action group of leading industry lights including Eric Fellner, Stewart Till and Iain Smith, who aim to make it easier for students to recognise which courses will give them skills to work in the film industry.

"This is a ground-breaking initiative," Clarke said. "The film industry, through Skillset and the UK Film Council, has produced a strategy which should really make a difference. It has the potential to provide exciting training and development opportunities to the many talented writers, directors, actors and producers in the UK's film community."

The scheme, titled A Bigger Future, will be funded by a new Film Skills Fund, comprising £6.5m a year in lottery cash from the council plus additional support from the existing Skills Investment Fund, European subsidy and the regions. The industry will be asked to contribute in the form of matching funding for certain initiatives such as a roaming human resources officer who can visit different companies or bursaries and internships for students.

"A Bigger Future sets out a realistic training strategy, put together in response to the well-articulated needs of the UK film industry," said UIP chief Stewart Till, who is head of the skills action group and deputy chairman of Skillset and the Council.

"It acknowledges the size of the industry, the wide range of skills that are required and the inherent lack of a normal industrial infrastructure. With the implementation of the strategy, the UK will lead the world in film training. No other national film industry has set in place such a comprehensive skills strategy. The impact on our competitiveness should be profound."

Along with services for students, initiatives such as a careers advice office will extend to people already working in the industry. Other aspects of the scheme include a UK Film Trainee Network to enable employers to easily find trainees.

"With its employment potential and capacity to entertain, educate and move the spirit, we need to build on the strengths of the film industry to secure its long term success and sustainability," said Ivan Lewis, minister for skills and vocational education. "This strategy for the film industry provides a framework to develop people's skills and talents and harness them to ensure the UK continues to thrive and compete in the global market."

Films Minister Estelle Morris added: "Our film industry is a major cultural and industrial asset to the UK. And like any industry, its workforce is its lifeblood. A structured and coherent strategy for developing careers in film is long overdue. That's why these proposals are so welcome. They are an excellent example of how lottery, industry and other public funding can help to produce lasting benefits, both in people's careers, our culture, and our economy."