For Immediate Release
May 02, 2017

Milken Institute: Opportunities, More than Skills, Are Missing in Los Angeles County’s Entertainment Industry

Report Calls for New Initiatives to Create Access, Encourage Diversity

Los Angeles, May 2, 2017 – The Milken Institute today issued a new report challenging Los Angeles County’s entertainment industry to invest in diversifying its workforce. The report, New Skills at Work: Keeping Los Angeles at the Cutting-Edge in an Evolving Industry, found that lack of access – not lack of training or ability - excludes job seekers from careers in entertainment. The report was made possible by support from JPMorgan Chase’s $250 million global initiative to tackle workforce development issues.

Despite strong prospects for overall industry growth with the advent of new media and converging disciplines of technology and creative arts, the report found a sustained opportunity gap due primarily to Hollywood’s traditional modes of hiring. This gap is especially large for female, minority and low-income applicants due to lack of connections, lack of exposure at home to new technologies, and more burdensome relative costs of higher education.

Because Los Angeles County’s entertainment sector competes globally in a fast-evolving industry to appeal to all kinds of audiences, lack of diversity in its workforce is a threat to itself as well as to the economic well-being of the region.

“As new media scales up, it creates demand for people who excel in the converging worlds of entertainment and technology,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute’s California Center, and a co-author of the report. “If we invest in preparing students for those jobs - especially students from diverse backgrounds - we can build ladders to great careers for anyone qualified, rather than just for those who have connections. We’ll stand a better chance of keeping the industry strong for generations right here in Los Angeles County.”

Recognizing that the gap is about opportunity, not skills, is the first key principle for employing, representing, and educating the Los Angeles entertainment sector’s workforce.

To act on that insight, Milken Institute urged employers and educators to create and expand internships, apprenticeships and mentoring programs for students representing diverse backgrounds.

As the industry opens itself to applicants from diverse backgrounds, training programs must adapt to emerging new media and technologies. This means higher education and on-the-job coursework must reflect an awareness of skills and trends needed both for today and tomorrow.

“Los Angeles can maintain its edge by training current and future workers in new technologies,” said Klowden. “Educators should adapt curriculum to changes in technologies, and employers and unions should offer incumbent workers opportunities for continuing education.” 

Access to opportunity also requires far-sighted public policy as technology and competition from other localities redistribute jobs to other cities, states and countries. The report found that online content and post-production work are particularly susceptible to relocating outside of Los Angeles County. Elected officials at the state and local levels in California must continue to analyze and adapt incentives and regulations to the changing media environment, to facilitate and encourage the growth and retention of local online content productions and new media. 

JPMorgan Chase funded the report as part of New Skills at Work, its five-year $250 million, global initiative to develop demand-driven workforce systems that help workers and employers compete and prosper. It builds upon earlier Milken Institute research, Hollywood’s Diversity Problem: It’s Not Just Actors, which called the industry to account and pointed to potential benefits from active efforts to diversify its workforce.

"The creative sector in Los Angeles must develop a system of regional career pathways to help launch diverse populations into the entertainment industry," said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. "Starting with internships, fellowships and apprenticeships, we believe the Milken Institute's targeted recommendations will help the creative sector develop a more diverse workforce. Given the diverse population of Los Angeles and the globalization of the media market, Hollywood must tap a wider variety of viewpoints and talent in order to appeal to a multi-cultural audience."

The co-authors - Jessica Jackson, Kevin Klowden, Joe Lee, Rebecca Simon and Perry Wong, with Mike Bernick - conducted in-depth quantitative and qualitative research, based on a comprehensive assessment of American Community Survey (ACS) data, including North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and occupational codes (SOC). The team gathered observations and recommendations from a wide range of stakeholders representing production studios, unions, higher education, community groups, and public economic development agencies.


Jill Posnick
Executive Director, Communications 
(310) 570-4661;

Kevin Kutz
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About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health. It conducts data-driven research, convenes action-oriented meetings and promotes meaningful policy initiatives.