Autodesk issues Livingstone Hope call to action

Industry must unite for Review, says Jeffery; while students must choose games courses carefully

Autodesk's Matthew Jeffery has told that the UK's video games industry must get behind the Livingstone Hope Review, published earlier this year, and unite to "help power it through".

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview, in which he talked about the challenges currently faced by the skills and education sectors, Jeffery - head of Talent Acquisition for EMEA and Global Talent Brand - explained that businesses shouldn't wait to act on the recommendations included within the Review.

"There are a lot of good recommendations made there - the key thing is delivering them," he said. "As an industry we must unite on that. It's not a document that should get all dusty, and that is regarded as 'great in theory' - we need to power forward, and all of us play a part in doing that."

He also expressed his concern at the amount of debt that students could be facing when new, higher levels of tuition fees are charged by universities - and underlined the importance for students to do as much research into whether or not a course is going to act as a pathway into the games business, before applying.

"With some of the government proposals we know that some courses could cost up to £9000 per year, and naturally a number of universities will charge that - which in turn makes it more difficult for others not to charge that, because of the status question," he said.

"So a graduate will be looking at £27,000, plus costs on top of that. When we talked in 2008 a graduate could emerge from university with around £25,000 of debt; we could now be looking at £40-50,000 of debt that they have to repay.

"That makes it more important for them, when they look at a course, to make sure it will be the best opportunity for them to get a job and progress in the career they want. As industry, we need to step back and think about which the best courses are and which ones can be recommended. If students are going to come out with that level of debt, we need to be able to advise them what to do next."

Jeffery agreed that at the moment there wasn't enough quality information for students about which courses were strong, and which weren't, outside of the Skillset accreditation system - but admitted that even Skillset couldn't currently provide a complete picture.

"Students at the moment don't have the best visibility into this - they can go to their careers advisers and ask them what the best course is to get into games; the good thing it that we obviously have Skillset, but there are ten courses accredited and over 140 courses out there," he said.

"As part of Skillset we recognise we need to accredit more, but not lose the quality in doing that. But are we saying that the other 130 courses aren't worthwhile? A number of them are; but a number of them you wouldn't recommend sending your children to. It's pretty tough."

And when asked how a more complete resource should be created, he was clear on where the responsibility lies.

"It's really up to both industry and individuals to own it. We can look to government to help, but there's an amount on the government's shoulders already. As companies we need to participate and help where we can with the Livingstone Hope Review - alongside Skillset - to drive harder and faster the number of courses accredited - and to be open on our own websites about careers advice.

"But it's also up to the individual to really research into the career paths they want to follow. Specifically, if they're going to study somewhere - and ultimately invest £40-50,000 into that - then they need to be looking at which industry companies are recruiting from which courses. Have those people been promoted within those companies, or drifted off? How close are the universities with industry?

"It doesn't matter which companies - it might be the big players or the smaller ones, but it's important to get a feel for which universities are close to them. An individual owns their career, and that's another message that needs to go out there."

The full interview with Matthew Jeffery, in which he also states his belief that there needs to be more positivity around the UK's development assets, is available now.

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Latest comments (11)

Andy Payne Chair/founder, AppyNation10 years ago
Well said Matthew. Drop Ian a line and join our task force which is working to implement the 20 recommendations. Would be good to have you aboard.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D10 years ago
"You have to ask yourself sometimes that if the UK's talent pool isn't that strong - as has been made out - why are these companies cherry-picking consistently from the UK?" (This is from the full interview, but I thought I'd post here as it may get more responses since this is the lead story.)

But that's the problem though, isn't it? The more this happens, the weaker the talent pool becomes. I really like Matthew, but I think he downplays the situation here to some degree. I'd agree that we need to be a bit more positive about the industry here, but it's also worth remembering that positive thinking can only take you so far.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 10 years ago
That's a good point Fran, we need to invest in us over here.
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Show all comments (11)
Andy - Please check out the link here - [link url=

This is our Graduate Programmer competition - Search for a Star - Ian's agreed to help us out on this.

We placed last years winner at Codies and are offering work experience to finalists this year. As well as giving out a load of advice oalong the way to hundreds of other grads. This years entrants are a great standard and weve expanded it to include non games course grads also.

We're pasionate here about getting grads into games and we spend a lot of time/money to make a positive influence on courses/students etc. We carry out 30+ careers talks at Uni's and this comp is designed to show the Uni's what they should be teaching!

We'd be delighted to help with the task force. Need to keep up the pressure on the government now we have them engaged. And hopefully we can get some of the ideas implemented - we certainly need more computing in the a very young age.

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Robert Turner Studying Games Programming, SAE Institute10 years ago
I agree with Ian, I took part in search for a star (just did the programming exam a couple of weeks ago). I think as the world becomes more technology driven (and I don't mean just in the games industry), computing skills and maths are going to become more and more essential to keeping the UK talent pool ahead of the game.
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Michael Abraham game designer 10 years ago
all i have to say to this is:
students applying for university are teenagers - as a majority they don't have the mindset to plan and think ahead about their futures, and likely won't start to have this mindset until close to the end of their degree.
the problem i feel would be more that universities don't understand the industry enough, and thus cannot offer something that will lead to a career within it. instead the universities will offer a good academic experience - and really that's what they're best geared for, academia.
if a student truly wants to get in on the games industry (or quite a few other industries) i still believe/feel that it's the extra-curricular things they do that'll get them there, not the degree itself.
- maybe i'm wrong, but i'd personally be more interested in a maths/history/biology/etc degree student who programs iphone apps in his spare time as a hobby/passion than a student graduating with a degree in a computer games related course.

edit: also i agree whole heartedly with ian above. computers and smart phones are mainstream and integral to life now - it's almost a crime how little the average user of these devices know about them these days. (just as it's a great shame how little people know about the way a car works these days)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Michael Abraham on 21st April 2011 8:54pm

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Andy Payne Chair/founder, AppyNation10 years ago
The fact that computer science is not an even an option on the National Curriculum in the UK, instead time and effort is wasted on ICT. I have spoken to many key politicians and they don't know the difference between the 2 subjects. It's a real struggle to get the message through, but we are getting there now. It is no short term fix of course, but children should be given the choice for their GCSEs. I could write loads more, but we have a task force set up to knock each of the 20 recommendations from the Livingstone Hope Review into place no matter what the effort and time needed. We do have to get the Department for Education and Mr Gove to understand that we are in a world dominated by technology rather than Latin.
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Abbass Hussain International Business Development, AQ Interactive10 years ago
40-50K sounds unrealistic to me, but believe me kids, you don't want to spend 40-50K on getting a job in a undustry that pays the McSalaries that most get. The big money tends not to filter down, especially for younger workers. You might pay back 5K a year if you're lucky and outside London, but that's your best scenario unless you're an instant superstar. It might seem worth it as a student, but not once the bank starts calling you to discuss late charges... As for education, I reckon a far better idea would be companies actually investing some time and money themselves in apprentiships, financially supported by goverment.
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Tony Johns10 years ago
It is god awful in Australia.

The course I am in only had the games units only in the second and third years...the first year is taken up with all these boring Programming, Networking, Multimedia, Communications units that have completely NOTHING to do with the games industry. Even the Maths unit with Bits Bytes and Algarithms has got verry little to do with gaming...

And yet I have to do ALL of these boring courses just to get though the bachelor.

Also the courses try to cover too much in so little time, not allowing us to take the time to get though them

And the assignments don't have anything related to the exams...they expect us to do the assignments, while attending the lectures in order to get to know what is in the exam...

And considering they were asking us to do all that with 4 boring units each semester in the first year...It just became so hard for me I only passed 4 out of 8 units for the first year.

Trying to make us take in all this information all at once...when there were also some other things going on when I was staying on residence is just too much to take in...

If we had the gaming courses FOCUS on gaming and NOT on the other boring stuff...we would have allot more enthusiasm and not as much tired out people in class with no creativity because of the other boring units that took allot more time to understand the material that had NOTHING to do with gaming...

If I was going to set out a gaming degree for students to have...I will have more gaming units and even an Industry Awareness unit for those in their 3rd years before they complete it so they can have a better understanding of what the gaming industry is all about...

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Craig Mooney Studying Game Art, De Montfort University10 years ago
I am studying Game Art at DMU in Leicester.
The course is great.
Skillset Accredited with links to industry. They are training us to use the tech, be better artist and think like an artist in the industry. "Feed your Brain"
We have companies giving lectures during our studies, which is an incredible asset.
You get to hear exactly what they want from you as potential employees (as long as you do your work)
They also get your mindset in the right direction.

I see a lot of great artists on this course.
But if there is no industry for them, they are going to go elsewhere for work.
That is a waste of resources for the UK. Why would you drive out your talent?
Does the government not see what our industry could be?

Is it a result of no imagination? The Games Industry could be making millions!
I hope there is a resolution soon.

This is just from my perspective right now. All I know is you should never waste potential.
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Mike Reddy Course Tutor BSc Computer Game Development, University of South Wales10 years ago
I am concerned that too few if any academics are part of this star chamber. I've been openly critical of the bash a Uni approach that has been taken, especially when a few select institutions were predominantly featured. The willingness to hand over decisions regarding the future education at school and HE level is frankly quite frightening. Having some educationalists on board would allay my, and others, fears.
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