Despite being one of the fastest growing in the world, the Indian media and entertainment industry is still plagued by lack of trained and skilled manpower and a good talent pool. Where is the industry going wrong and what is the way out, were the few questions raised in the session on ‘Talent crunch in the media and entertainment industry’.
The panel of speakers included K Pandyan, Director of Graphiti; Lachlan MacKinnon, Professor of Information and Knowledge Engineering, and Head of School of Computing and Creative Technologies at University of Abertay Dundee; Meghna Ghai, President of Whistling Woods International, Prof Amit Sharma of JNU; and Raj Shekhar, Vice-president, Crest.
The session revolved around a few questions thrown by the moderator Pandyan -- Is the media and entertainment field a serious option for students on one hand and professionals on the other? Does the industry consider training relevant, if yes, where is the focus and is the focus more on teaching than learning?
The panel unanimously agreed that the industry must throw emphasis on education than on training. Drawing a parallel between the media and the software industry, Pandyan said, "The software industry some years back went through the same crunch as we are facing today. People need to perceive this industry as seriously as they do with the software or engineering industry.”
Meghna Gahi of Whistling Woods International also spoke about how the government can play an important role in changing people's perspective about this industry. "In the West, Art and Drawing are given equal importance as Science and Maths right from primary schools; similarly, we too must nurture creativity and include media studies right from primary education and in mainstream education systems, only then the perception of parents and the society will change." She went on to add that the industry must be an active part of training and educating students and share their expertise with them.
Speaking about how industry professionals can be an integral part of training students, Prof Lachlan MacKinnon said, "Industry professionals must be an integral part of training. At our institutes, they just don't come to give guest lectures but are a part of the students' every day life. They daily interact with them, which help students understand the industry well and know ground realities of the industry and then decide whether or not to be part of this industry." Stressing on academic models he said, "Didactic academic model forms an important part of this. Teachers must not stress on bookish knowledge, but instead support creativity and originality in educational and training programmes."
MacKinnon also pointed out that talent crunch is a worldwide problem and not just pertaining to India. Saying that India has a huge talent pool, he said both the authorities and the industry must recognise its own potential and act accordingly.
Raj Shekhar of Crest, however, had a very different opinion. He said, "Trained manpower is not necessarily creative or talented manpower. We cannot create talent, as talent is in-built. We need to identify the difference between skilled and talented people. Educational institutes dealing with this industry must nurture creativity and facilitate talent and not try to create it. Understanding a software or knowing skills does not mean a person is creative and has the talent; he needs to be passionate about the art of doing and then look forward to learn the know how of a particular field."
While agreeing with Shekhar, Amit Sharma of JNU differed with the view of comparing media and film industry to the software industry as Pandyan did. He argued that the film industry is very different from gaming and animation industry and does not have a software or skill to be learnt. Films are about creativity and talent and this comes only by encouraging creativity and originality, he said.
The panel unanimously agreed that there is a serious short supply of talented people in the industry and that the industry must look at it as a really serious problem. Talent is not created but nurtured and both industry and government must work together to resolve this problem.