The director of a Keighley-based animation studio is encouraging creative talent retention in the region by offering work placements outside of education.

Distant Future Animation Studio has implemented a skill-swap learning development scheme, inviting those who are finding it difficult to find employment in the industry to complete a voluntary placement to add to their skills.

Following the Creative Skillset guidelines, the creative studio based in Parkway House, has seen more than 10 individuals come through the scheme since the business launched in 2011, many of whom have gone on to join visual effects teams on major blockbuster films, launch their own design studios or work on global animation projects.

Bill Beaumont, director said: “Creative jobs can be incredibly difficult to get. I came into this industry with little on-the-job experience, so it’s always been important to me to open up doors for new generations of creatives.

“I’ll often speak to young animators and designers who are stuck in a cycle of applying for entry-level jobs which require industry experience. If we as business leaders don’t start taking a different approach when it comes to offering alternative avenues into the industry, we run the risk of losing local talent to the likes of Manchester and London.”

As well as taking on work experience placements from Craven College and Leeds Art University, Distant Future regularly offers skill-swap learning placements based on the Creative Skillset guidelines created by charity, Screen Skills.

Leeds-based Scarlett Shearwood has recently completed a 160-hour placement with Distant Future and said: “I’m so grateful to Bill for taking a chance on me and offering me a placement. I have a degree in English with Journalism, so while I’ve been building up a design portfolio in the background over the years, companies have been hesitant to hire me without industry experience.

“Spending time at the studio and with the team has allowed me to familiarise myself with software and tools I wouldn’t have a chance of accessing otherwise. While I haven’t worked on client projects, as that goes against the Screen Skills guidelines, I’ve been able to observe the team as they approach creative projects and gain some invaluable feedback on my own work, as well as Bill introducing me to contacts in the industry so that I can begin building up my own network.

“The skill swap placement is an incredibly fair way of working, as I know Bill’s following the guidelines of 160 hours. Without it, I’d still be struggling to find my feet in the industry but now as I approach job seeking, I’m much more confident in my portfolio and the skills I’ve developed.”

Having grown up in Skipton, Scarlett added: “It’s fantastic that this initiative exists in the north, I’m really keen to stay local and I’m hopeful I can find a graphic design job in Leeds or nearby.”

Bill added: “It’s been great to have Scarlett in the studio and her skills progression has been impressive. By opening up our doors and providing experience in this way, we’re able to nurture talent the region could have missed out on.

“We often find we’re learning new things from our placements too. Technology is developing at an incredible rate and, ultimately, will have an impact on all industries. If we as a creative industry don’t change our approach to hiring new talent or providing well-rounded work experience opportunities, we run the risk of losing of fantastic potential employees who’ve grown up with, or even pioneered, some of these advancements.”