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Government and industry-backed initiative NextGen Skills Academy has created a new qualification to help provide the digital skills currently in demand by the creative industries.
The new course has been created specifically to address the digital skills gap in the games, animation and visual effects (VFX) industries, which are worth a combined £6bn to the UK economy.
Gina Jackson, MD of NextGen Skills Academy said: “From creating visual effects for the latest TV or movie blockbuster to developing the next video game sensation, students of the exciting new Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills will be given all the tools they need to become the next generation of digital creatives.”
NextGen Skills Academy, which was set up last year to address an education gap in games, animation and VFX, has worked with employers in this sector to develop the new course.
Software and programming skills are currently required in the games, animation and visual effects industries. More than half of the jobs available in the games industry require coding and programming, as do 22% of those in the VFX industry.
Software skills are also needed – with 64% of jobs in the animation industry, 31% of those in the games industry and 69% of those in the VFX industry having vacancies in this area.
Research by NextGen Skills Academy found that 47% of employers in these industries had vacancies in these areas that were hard to fill because they could not find applicants with the relevant skills.
The new course, which will be worth three A-levels, starts in September 2015 at colleges across the UK, including North East Surrey College of Technology, Sunderland College, Truro & Penwith College and Uxbridge College.
The course requires A-C grades in English and maths GCSE – and with a 3.4% year-on-year increase in students taking maths GCSE in 2015, many should achieve the qualification.
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Many more students have taken an interest in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) GCSEs this year, and the number of computer science candidates was up 111.1% year-on-year.
But for many, Stem does not cover the full spectrum of industries with skills shortages, and there are calls for Arts to be represented too.
Rather than feeling like a school course, NextGen qualifications have been developed in partnership with AIM Awards to design environments in each college resembling real-life working scenarios, and aim to map out a progression in the relevant industries for students.
Mentors will also be available from companies in each sector, and students will learn the skills needed to apply for apprenticeships or jobs in the games, VFX or animation industries.
Jackson added: “Students will be learning and developing talent and knowledge in areas they are genuinely interested in and these industries will get the people with the skills they want.”