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Students must choose carefully, says Jeffery

Thu 07 Feb 2008 8:00am GMT / 3:00am EST / 12:00am PST
Education

Graduates in the UK face an increasingly tough time getting a job in the games industry, and university courses aren't necessarily the best means of preparation.

Graduates in the UK face an increasingly tough time getting a job in the games industry, and university courses aren't necessarily the best means of preparation.

That's according to Matthew Jeffery, Electronic Arts' head of Global Talent Brand, talking in an exclusive interview with GamesIndustry.biz.

While there are a number of issues surrounding the subject of education, numbers are increasingly difficult.

"I think the problem at the moment is that there are just a large number of gaming-related courses, particularly in the UK - at last count there were around 170 or 180 different courses - which means there's a huge supply of potential graduates coming into the industry," said Jeffery.

"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."

What's more some courses aren't teaching students the skills they need to be able to walk into jobs fully prepared - a sentiment that's been echoed by the likes of Frontier Developments' David Braben in the past.

"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," said Jeffery.

"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."

Additionally, because the games courses are tailored for quite specific jobs, there can also be problems in the event that a graduate doesn't make it into the industry straight away.

"If a games course student cannot get a job in the games industry, where do they get a job? It's not the most transferrable of degrees, compared to more traditional courses," he said.

Plus there's the question of debt that students need to run up in order to study in the first place.

"The average debt I was reading about the other day is GBP 15-18,000 - so you've asked them to study for three or four years, come out with that level of debt, and they can't get into the industry they want to get into - that's a huge waste of talent.

"My advice would be for people looking at games courses, consider what else you might be able to do if you can't get into the industry, where else you can go to.

"In fact our recommendation at EA is that we prefer people to have traditional degrees, so somebody studying computer science, maths or physics and then coming into a programming role, means that they can then go off into a number of different industries and be successful.

"People all want to get into our industry, which is a phenomenal thing, but for graduates we just want to make sure that the message is out there - choose carefully, look at the course you're studying, see where the students have gone on to after that, etc."

The full interview with Matthew Jeffery is available on GamesIndustry.biz now.

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