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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 GamesIndustry.biz 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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