Skill development and more democratic process of talent identification will be crucial to realise the potential in the media and entertainment industry.

Collaborate, Create and Localise! This advice from the groves of academia could well be the media and entertainment world’s equivalent of the magical phrase Open Sesame.

For the first time, a battery of academics and a good number of media and film students thronged the three-day FICCI FRAMES conclave which brings a range of players from the global audio-visual industry to Mumbai.

The consensus from academics, innovators and skill developers at the discussion moderated by Sunil Tandon, Director General, IIMC, was that the media literate and highly skilled students are the prime requisite for enabling the next big leap in M & E.

Crunching numbers in terms of job vacancies, Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star India Pvt. Ltd pointed to the dearth of talent in the industry and said that over 60 lakh people would be required to achieve the goal of growing the media industry from 17 billion to 70 billion in next decade. Indeed, job opportunities for media professionals will increase with the media needs of every business which makes ads and corporate films, has PR and corporate Communications departments and manages social networks. If that sounds too good to be true the bad news is that as many as 12 million jobs would have to be created every year just to keep unemployment at the present level (around 10 million jobless )

Professional approach

Gupta admits there are “serious challenges in the industry’s HR policies” and decries the belief that “chaos is creativity in our industry”. He argues that “the informal ways of recruiting need to be changed. We need to be serious on training, mentoring and recruiting the right and local talent for the industry. There is an urgent need to go formal, early and local.”

Which is easier said than done as Film and Television Institute of India (FTII ) Director D J Narain points to the “serious divide between urban sensibilities. Seventy per cent of our country’s populace is still living in small towns, a veritable pool of untapped talent. Additionally, there are over 1000 live art forms in our country which have huge potential and need to be preserved.”

Whistling Woods International’s Meghna Ghai Puri concurs that talent is not confined to Mumbai and Delhi, but can be tapped from the entire country by a more democratic process of talent identification. “We need to focus on more-inclusive and grass-root development of talent”, she said. She deplores the Indian education system’s compartmentalisation “into black and white unlike abroad where they ask you to think in greyscale. Abroad, you get a skill-based education system that makes students valuable and durable in whatever industry they choose to enter.”

But she also believes that rather than a focus on vocational training, we need to encourage more formal education in the M & E segment. The focus, she suggests, ought to be on research, analysis, communication, articulation and innovation to mould young students who can then formulate their own opinions, dream their own dreams, create their own visions and communicate their own ideas.

But how does one make a paradigm shift in education if some people are averse to change?

Interestingly no one spoke of the need for value education for young people to make value-based choices.