Creative Chronicles: Industry Education
January 16 2018 |
Creative Chronicles brings together key insights, information and statistics from the experts at Creative Assembly. We hope this will inspire students and those considering a career in game development.
This edition of Creative Chronicles focuses on Education.
We’re all familiar with the digital skills gap, it’s been a growing issue for many years and its effects spread widely across the UK economy, not just in the games industry. There does seem to be signs of improvement with more students taking up computing GCSE in recent years. In fact between 2015 and 2016 there was a 72% increase which could be linked to improvements in the UK computing curriculum.
The games industry is still comparatively young, born out of the 80s-bedroom coder boom and it hasn’t been until recent years that industry has really engaged with government and education. The digital skills gap has likely played a part in this shift as demand for highly-specialist talent is not being met. With these issues comes the opportunity for the industry to play an important part in educating future talent and securing the UK as one of the most innovative nations in the world.
TALENT IN THE UK
While 99% of 8 - 15 year olds play games they are not necessarily being attracted in to games relevant education, such as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) subjects.
Engineering UK estimates that the annual shortfall in engineering graduates needed to plug the skills shortage is 20,000. This doesn’t include many of the specialist skills the games industry requires in art and design.
Currently out of around 650,000 GCSE students only 14,000 go on to study STEM relevant degrees.
For those students who do aspire to join the games industry there are numerous games related degree courses in the UK. However, many of these are too general to equip students with the specialist skills required.
The problem is two-fold; not enough students are taking up STEAM starting with their GCSE choices, and much of the education system is not producing students who are industry-ready.
STEM AND FUTURE PROOFING SKILLS
With such a fast-paced evolving industry it is not possible to predict future technologies and therefore future talent requirements. It’s estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will work in roles in the future that don’t currently exist.
Building algorithmic thinking into early years education, helping them develop their reflective and critical thinking skills, gives them the best start on their education path.
The UK curriculum has improved with recent changes requiring students to learn elements of coding and computing. While this change is a welcome step towards reducing the gap in digital knowledge, it introduces challenges.
Primary schools spend over 50% of teaching time on English and Maths with all other subjects squeezed into the remaining time available. The amount of content that needs to fit into the annual timetable is high, additionally teachers previously trained to teach ICT need new skills, including learning or gaining confidence in new programming languages. We are essentially asking both teachers and students to learn a new language.
We can however, mitigate risk by building relationships between education and industry, giving teachers the tools they need to enable effective and quality teaching.
Very much linked to educational barriers are the ongoing misconceptions that may result in not enough children taking up STEM relevant subjects.
A 2017 study reported that more than half of parents (51%) and 43% of teachers thought that students lack understanding about career options related to STEM.
Additionally, this study found that more than half of both parents (52%) and teachers (57%) admit to having made subconscious stereotypes about girls and boys in relation to STEM, and over half (54%) of teachers claim to have seen girls dropping STEM subjects at school due to pressure from parents.
These misconceptions are very visible within the games industry, generally driven by popular culture and a lack of understanding about the professionalism of games development. They vary from perceptions of the industry not being a valid profession, or being too competitive and unobtainable. Young people believe that if they can't code, they can't make games and among young girls, there is often the feeling that the industry isn't open to them. Additionally, parents who may not be confident in STEM themselves, or familiar with the career opportunities, may influence the choices of their children.
The games industry needs to challenge these misconceptions and encourage young people into these professions, through sharing career experiences and promoting the range of opportunities that are available - it's not just coders that make games!
The industry's engagement with education should expand beyond the students, we can tackle the misconceptions of teachers and parents and help children build confidence in subject areas that they may enjoy, but not feel are open to them.
There are now many initiatives to bridge the gap between education and the industry and we need to expand on these to ensure all the UK benefits from the same opportunities to ensure a consistent standard.
AMBASSADORS FOR THE FUTURE
The Creative Assembly Ambassador Programme provides a focused platform for outreach, with our expert ambassadors speaking at schools and universities across the country. Through sharing their experiences and career paths into the industry, highlighting the variety of opportunities within games development, they can motivate, inspire and educate the talent of tomorrow. This is part of our Legacy Project’s commitment to wider industry education.
To further help bridge the gap between education and the industry, traineeships can offer invaluable experience for those starting out in their careers. Creative Assembly’s trainee programme aims to take on around 15 paid trainees each year. The results are positive with 90% of the traineeships turning into permanent employment at the studio. In fact, out of the 73 trainees who have joined CA since 2010, 43 are still here.
- Our Creative Chronicles series focuses on different areas of games development. Previous editions include Art, Programming and Audio.
- Our local UK schools have shared some of the experiences they have had at Creative Assembly’s studio experience days, including Burgess Hill Girl’s School, Christ’s Hospital.
- We spoke to MCV about the success of the studio experience days and the changing views we are seeing among young people.
- The Creative Skillset Job Roles site has a wealth of information on the diverse range of careers available across the creative industries. including job descriptions, required skills and desired experience.
- The UK games industry talks to gamesindustry.biz about the importance of engaging with graduates and supporting the talent pipeline.
- Guy Davidson, CA's Coding Manager, talks about inclusion in the industry.
- Jodie Azhar has shared her top tips for starting a career in games.
- CA has partnered with BAFTA for their Young Game Designers Competition, which inspires young people to create, develop and present their game idea to the world.
- In this Gamasutra article, Senior Development Manager, Iain Angus, discusses career progression in the industry.