Courses in the real world

Courses in the real world

Games development is an important industry in the North East and the region is at the forefront of developing skills and training to meet the sector’s needs as Peter Jackson reports.

Sunderland College is introducing a new course from September to train people in games and animation, while Newcastle-based games developer Ubisoft Reflections is leading the development of a new apprenticeship.

Sunderland College is one of a number of colleges but the only one in the North East to introduce the new Level 3 Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills. The course is the first to be launched by NextGen Skills Academy - an organisation backed by both government and industry funding - with its partner awarding organisation AIM Awards. The diploma will provide a level 3 qualification, which is equivalent to three A Levels.

It is intended that, as well as the delivery of relevant and up-to-date course content that has been written by industry with the aim of replicating the real-world work environment, students will have access to industry mentors and industry-designed live briefs, set and assessed by a group of companies from the sectors being studied.

Over two years, students will build portfolios relevant to industry needs and as preparation for either working in these sectors or as a progression to higher education or higher apprenticeships. In addition to the Games, Animation and VFX Skills Diploma, NextGen is supporting a selection of industry partners in the creation of three higher apprenticeships which have been approved for development: one role in games and two roles in VFX.  

The games apprenticeship is with Quality Assurance Technician, led by Rebellion (with a further role of Community Coordinator, led by Ubisoft Reflections proposed for future development). The two VFX apprenticeships are junior 2D artist, led by Double Negative and assistant technical director, led by Framestore.

Giselle Stewart, director, UK Corporate Affairs at Ubisoft says: “We’re proud to be part of an incredibly robust community of developers in the UK. Initiatives like the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills provide an accessible point of entry into the industry for future generations of talent and we’re looking forward to seeing a diverse range of applicants as a result.  

“The growing UK games industry offers a broad range of career paths from design and production to lesser known but equally as vital community management roles. The course is the first of its kind to be built and endorsed by the industry with a view to supporting future games industry professionals within these skill areas and the whole process has been seamless and well-supported by the Next Gen Skills Academy throughout. The fact that it has taken just one year between inception and the start of the course is nothing short of remarkable.”

A higher apprenticeship offers a work-based learning programme, which combines on the job training with studying for high-level qualifications, allowing employers to create a skilled workforce that is ready to meet the future demands of the business.

“NextGen’s aim is to be a leading developer of relevant, up to date qualifications and apprenticeships that will allow young people to develop exciting careers in the digital creative industries, while also providing employers with a dynamic talent pool of skilled individuals that will enable them to grow successful businesses,” says Gina Jackson, managing director at NextGen Skills Academy.

“This is all about preparing students for the roles that employers are recruiting today and it’s very exciting to see the first round of our hard work come to fruition.”