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Braben reveals depth of UK skills shortage

But Deering optimistic on Britain's future and the role of government

Frontier Developments founder and Elite co-creator David Braben has highlighted the increasing skills shortage problem faced by UK developers, at today's Westminster eForum keynote seminar.

Speaking in a panel discussion on the "past successes and future prospects" for the UK computer and videogame industry, Braben illustrated how the number of students taking computer science has fallen dramatically since 2001.

Braben theorised that the way ICT (Information Communications Technology) was taught was a major cause for the decline, with students finding it the "dullest course at school".

He also criticised universities for "dumbing-down" course in order to attract disinterested students and for courses which dwelt too much on the "philosophy of games" rather than much needed technology skills.

As a number of panellist at the eForum event pointed out the UK now risks becoming only the sixth largest market for developers in the world, behind the US, Japan, Canada, France and China. A decade ago the UK was ranked number three in the world.

Fellow panellist, Codemasters non-executive chairman and ex-SCEE boss Chris Deering was more upbeat though, especially concerning the increasingly sympathetic tone taken by the UK government towards the industry.

Although he stated that the UK was effectively "under attack" from other competing markets Deering also claimed that the situation was "not so bad".

Paralleling comments made by many panellists, Deering compared the necessary response to the situation from UK government to the impact the Wii has had on games players.

"It's time for the UK government to get up and move about a bit," he said in reference to tax incentives and improved education links with business.

"It's not that complicated", insisted Deering, while also suggesting that it was "not too late" to turn the UK development and publishing industries around.

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