Driving the next generation of UK game industry talent

Driving the next generation of UK game industry talent

By Jo Twist

June 20th 2013 at 5:30PM

Ukie's Jo Twist on how developers can help identify the best schemes to improve education

The UK games industry is at its most exciting right now, but we need to continue to invest in future skills and training.

Let’s face it, we’re pretty lucky here in the UK working in games. We have an incredibly rich heritage of game development, going all the way back to the Games Workshop, through to Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, Wipeout, Dirt and more recently the proliferation of mobile games and the incredibly popular Moshi Monsters and Lego Star Wars.

We have the largest games market in Europe (and the third largest in the world), and most recently, we, as an industry, have been successful in getting our political leaders’ attention to secure research and development tax credits and skills funding to help us continue to develop and grow, recognised as a key creative British export industry.

But the continuing success and creative flair of British games isn’t all organic. It stems from support for skills training and development that helps each generation of developers, designers and publishers to shine.

Although we hear fantastic stories of successful games business leaders who started tinkering in their bedrooms on their micros and Spectrums in the 80s, many of today’s star games developers learned their craft at computer programming degrees around the country.

If we want to ensure that the flow of inspired talent to feed our industry continues, there’s a lot of work we need to do, especially in helping future generations access the right and robust game specific education and training.

The Ukie-funded Next Gen Skills Campaign led by Ian Livingstone has already done so much to get games and coding skills back onto the English school curriculum, but this is just the first level.

Young people want to be inspired. They want to hear from people in the industry who can tell them how they got to be where they are, whether it be accidental or intentional, and what skills they need.

The Video Games Ambassador scheme, a Stemnet programme run by Ukie, gets games industry people into schools to inspire the next generation, to bring new ideas, sharp skills and fresh thinking to our industry. Anyone can sign up at and once you do you’ll get training, and all you need to commit to is one training session a year.

The government also recognises the importance of developing new skills, which is why Ed Vaizey recently announced to our members at the Westminster Summer Reception two new schemes that will improve games industry skills: one that will fund training for existing games industry professionals and another that will make it cheaper and easier for games businesses to take on trainees. Both these new schemes will be administered by Creative Skillset and will start with a pilot to be launched next month.

The two new schemes are funded from the Creative Skillset Skills Investment Fund (SIF) announced by government at the end of last year, which has £1.5m ring-fenced for games. Both schemes will operate on a match-funding basis so that for each £1 employers contribute to the SIF, Creative Skillset will match with £1 from HM Treasury.

The Games Skills Advisory Council, formed by Creative Skillset in association with Ukie and Tiga, and chaired by Ian Livingstone CBE, comprises industry experts who have used Creative Skillset’s research into sector skills needs, gaps and shortages, cross-sector skills issues and forecasting methods to identify the skills priorities and activities to be supported.

We want to hear from as many businesses as possible to ensure that the funding is spent where it is needed, and it is here that we need your help. Whether you run an independent studio, manage HR at a UK office of a multinational, or simply have an interest in employing and working with brilliantly trained and highly skilled developers and designers, then your view is needed for an online consultation panel to answer key questions on where we should make our investment priorities in the industry.

To sign up is quick and simple, and you can do so here, but you need to hurry and make sure you do so by June 24th, when Creative Skillset will release questions to get your views on the importance of funded trainees and whether new work-based degree programmes with more employer involvement will address concerns around graduates lacking skills and experience needed by you, as an employer in the industry.

Here’s to the new generation to help us continue to make the British games industry what it is – creative, credible, growing and exciting, and we can all make it happen.

To contribute to Creative Skillset industry research into the SIF and how it can best benefit the computer games industry, employers should sign up to the online Employer Panel before June 24th, when the next survey will go live.

Visit the official website for more information.