Funding and ambassador schemes take aim at UK skills gap

Funding and ambassador schemes take aim at UK skills gap
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

June 4th 2013 at 10:48AM

UKIE and Government initiatives target seasoned and upcoming industry professionals

Games industry trade body UKIE has re-launched its Video Game Ambassadors scheme aimed at inspiring the next generation of games developers into the sector.

The initiative is a voluntary scheme run in partnership with STEMNET, with UKIE looking calling for more industry professionals, particularly women, to sign up.

It claimed that 50 ambassadors pledged support to the scheme last year and spoke to over 3,500 school children across the UK about careers and opportunities available to them in the game industry.

Current ambassadors for the scheme include Sony London principal programmer Will Cowling and Sega European marketing director James Schall.

“Inspiring the next generation of talent is vital for the games industry,” said UKIE CEO Jo Twist.

“We are looking for more people to become VGAs to share their experiences about making and selling games, telling their stories about how they got to be in their position – whatever their position.

"Our current ambassadors have done fantastic work inspiring thousands of kids since 2011 and we want different faces - including more women from the industry - whether you are in development, marketing or any other part of the sector, to sign up and inspire.

"It’s especially important for young girls to see women sharing their stories so that they may be inspired to programme, code, and be creative with it, so we can challenge stereotypes about STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and maths).”

For more information, visit the official website.

Also speaking at a special event in Westminster, where the new VGA scheme was announced, UK Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey disclosed further details about the Creative Skillset-run Skills Investment Fund revealed last week.

Vaizey said the Government is looking to fund training for game industry professionals, as well as making it cheaper and easier for game businesses to take on trainees.

The initiative will be funded from the Skills Investment Fund, which is operating on a match-funding basis. For each £1 raised by industry up to £16m, Creative Skillset will invest £1 from the Treasury, generating £32m in funds in total.

£1.5 million from the Skills Investment Fund has been ring-fenced for the game industry.

Priorities for the game industry investment are said to include digital publishing skills, advanced management, up-skilling production teams to more specialised roles and new entrants.

“Our skills and talent base form the backbone of the UK’s world class games industry,” said Vaizey.

“Government is absolutely committed to supporting this and I’m delighted to see that industry is making the most of the Skills Investment Fund which recently benefited from an additional £16m in Government funding.

"These two new schemes will help ensure we remain a world leader in this sector by providing additional training for the experts already out there, as well as acting as a strong incentive for industry to take on new trainees.”

Twist added: “These great new schemes will make it easier and more affordable for games businesses to improve the skills within their existing teams and to access the latest graduate talent. We’ll be working through the Games Skills Advisory Council to make sure that the SIF is accessible to all games companies and not limited by their size or location within the UK and that this investment and future programmes secure a strong future for the UK games sector.”