Creative Industries to Get Skills Boost
The creative sector is worth around £71 billion per year in the UK, but companies have said that they find it hard to recruit employees who are proficient and up to speed with the latest technologies.
To tackle this issue, the Minister for Culture and Digital Economy Ed Vaizey has announced that the government and several creative industries have pledged cash to help fill the skills gap. This will be done through the Next Gen Skills Academy, which will be training up and coming animators, games designers and visual effects artists.
The announcement was made at the Eurogamer Expo (EGX), a videogame show in London. As a network of further education colleges, the Next Gen Skills Academy will launch apprenticeships and placements for students. This will provide them with the necessary skills for a career in the industry, continuing and expanding the UK’s creative sector.
“There’s a narrow focus of working with key companies, who are not just putting in cash, but services in kind in terms of work placements, expertise and skills,” explained Mr Vaizey.
Adding to government funding, some of the UK’s top companies in animation, games and visual effects have pledged around £3.6 million to the project over the course of three years. Some of these backers include the likes of Ubisoft Reflections, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) and Pinewood Studios.
UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) Chief Executive Dr Jo Twist, said that industry-led courses from the academy would mean that students and apprentices would be immediately up-to-date on the latest technology and skills. However, she added that better careers advice for the industry was needed for parents and teachers, as well as the students. The word also needs to be spread that gaming is not necessarily just a hobby, but something that a career can come from, too.
The academy will be designing a range of new courses, as well as 150 higher-level apprenticeships, with the aim of training more than 1,300 people to degree level. There will also be around 1,000 short courses for those looking to extend or update their current skill set.
“When employers work in partnership, they can accomplish great things,” said Michael Davis, chief executive for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). He explained that through the academy, businesses will be able to discuss the skills they seek, and will be able to create something bigger and better than they would have been able to on their own. “We remain committed to helping businesses take ownership of their skills needs.”
UKCES Manager Katherine Cottrell agreed, adding that the scheme will also encourage diversity in the creative sector. She said that more and more people would be able to find a way into the industry, even if they hadn’t been to university or through the traditional academic routes. She also explained that addressing the diversity issue was an attractive prospect, as it would mean that more people “irrespective of gender or ethnic background” would be encouraged into the creative sector.
New figures for the games industry suggest that it may already be worth more than twice that of government estimates. However, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that to maintain the UK’s “cutting edge position”, talent and skills will have to meet industry needs. And this can be done through companies and the government coming together and putting money into the Next Gen Skills Academy.