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Industry skills message hits mainstream news

Wed 18 Jun 2008 1:41pm GMT / 9:41am EDT / 6:41am PDT
Education

Games degrees come under more fire from developers as "not fit for purpose"

The issue of the perceived skills gap between what games degrees are providing and what developers need for employment moved forward a step today, with mainstream news reporting on the issue for the first time.

"95 per cent of videogaming degrees are simply not fit for purpose," said Frontier Developments boss David Braben to the BBC, echoing comments he made to GamesIndustry.biz eight months ago.

"Without some sort of common standard, like Skillset accreditation, these degrees are a waste of time for all concerned. We are facing a serious decline in the quality of graduates looking to enter the industry - the death [sic] of maths, physics and computer science graduates is hitting us hard", he added.

This follows advice earlier this year from EA's head of global talent, Matthew Jeffery, for students to tread very carefully about which course they would choose.

"From my perspective, the key thing for a graduate is to make sure they're ultimately employable and can get into the career option of their choice," he told GamesIndustry.biz in February.

"If you look at the gaming degrees, a lot of them have been put together quite hastily and don't prepare graduates for a career in the industry. That means they come to a company like ours and they need extra training - they're not quite ready.

"So the problem is that game degrees are almost like the latest fashion accessory - all the universities are running to set them up, but the students aren't being prepared in terms of the skill sets they have."

According to Northumbria University's Dan Hodgson, who is course leader for the institution's Computer Games Engineering degree, students are approaching the subject with the wrong attitude.

"We do have people who don't have the right mindset. We consistently tell them that this is one of the hardest courses we offer at this university. It's certainly not for the sort of people who want to laze around and play games for three years."

Meanwhile Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Jamie Macdonald has backed a centre of excellence scheme, with involvement from the government.

"We want to work with government to help equip our graduates with the skills they need to thrive in one of the most dynamic and profitable industries in the world."

There are currently over 80 videogames degree courses available at UK universities, of which only 4 are currently accredited by Skillset.

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