Literacy levels among young recruits to the newspaper and magazine industries are becoming a major concern, a media training watchdog has warned.
Skillset, the body supporting skills, education and training for the UK’s creative media industries, said the impact of digital technology on the publishing world has exposed “critical” skills gaps in businesses where editorial quality was vital for commercial success.
The watchdog warned this dip in the quality of basic skills came at a time when “traditional core skills like good writing, editing and interviewing are becoming even more important so that customers are prepared to pay for high quality content”.
The Skills Strategy for Publishing report, the culmination of a year-long research project and consultation, identified the major challenges for news agencies, newspapers, magazines, book publishers and other media businesses in the years ahead.
It said it was vital staff understood and maximised multimedia and multi-platform content in the UK and internationally.
In addition, the report said there was a “desperate” need to develop more highly skilled advertising and media sales forces, especially in digital media, and that it was “critical” for freelances and sole traders to have the latest skills for multimedia and converging technologies.
Gail Rebuck, chairman and chief executive of Random House and Skillset board member, said: “The impact of the recession coupled with the phenomenal pace of technological change is having a profound impact on the publishing sector.
“To take advantage of the great opportunities to create and deliver compelling content to educate, engage and entertain readers, the industry needs a workforce capable of combining traditional skills with a new digital and technical capability underpinned by a renewed emphasis on creativity.
“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.”
The report found that overall the publishing industry was more highly qualified than the UK generally, with 45 per cent of its workforce qualified to degree level or above, compared to a national average of 30 per cent.
The publishing industry has more than 7,000 businesses, employing more than 200,000 people and total annual sales of up to £22bn, the report added.