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Migration Advisory Committee recommends games roles be added to UK shortage list

Body calls for programmers, artists, producers, directors and more to be prioritised when considering immigration applications

The UK's Migration Advisory Committee has called for the government to include a variety of games-related job roles on a list of occupations for which the country suffers shortages.

Published earlier this week, the review looks through all sectors of all industries, highlighting roles where vacancies could be filled by hiring from abroad or accepting more migrants with the relevant skills into the country.

It's also hoped that by prioritising certain roles, or at least making them more open to workers abroad, imbalances in the UK's workforce might be addressed. The committee notes the video games sector, for example, "sits will below the average for gender and BAME representation" although it recognises "there are initiatives to tackle this."

Many of the roles recommended for inclusions on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) apply to the games industry, and were based on recommendations from bodies that represent the sector, including UKIE and TIGA.

Under 'Digital and IT Operations,' the committee recommends all programmers and software development professionals be included on the SOL. Roles in this sector currently included on the list are limited to software developer, shader writer and games designer (added after recommendations in 2013), but now it's advised the government includes all related jobs titles.

In fact, programmers topped the indicator ranking for shortages, with the number of vacancies found to be above average.

"All indications point to a shortage of roles within this occupation, not just within certain industries but across the board," the committee wrote.

More recommendations came under the 'Artistic and Creative Industries' segment. While this covers everything from art and heritage to horse racing and sports markets, the committee notes that current roles on the SOL are "predominantly in the film, television or video games sectors."

Artists ranked fairly highly on the shortage indicator -- 29th out of 105 categories -- with the committee again recommending that all job titles within this area be included on the SOL.

Currently, the only related role on the list is animator for VFX and 2D/3D computer animation, which covers the film, television and video games sectors. But stakeholders from these markets said they are also short in other art disciplines, and this inclusion "did not allow for the creation of new roles within the industries."

The committee also recommended that all arts officers, producers and directors be added to the SOL, due to the "shortages in technical skills which are ever developing and in shortage worldwide."

"The rapid development in technology can cause difficulties getting workers with the skills companies need to remain competitive," the report added. "Gaming has a range of SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] who struggle to compete on salary with larger organisations and other industries that require the same skill set (e.g. the financial sector) and so often offers shares in the company as an alternative incentive."

Finally, the committee recommended that all jobs under 'IT business analysts, architects and system designers' and 'web design and development professionals' also be added to the SOL -- some of which apply to the games industry.

Games bodies did request that a number of graphic designer roles be added to the list, including 3D game artist, level designer, senior animator and technical artist.

But the committee has only recommended that roles already listed on the SOL be retained. These include compositing artist, matte painter, modeller, rigger, stereo artist and texture artist.

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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