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Report calls for new industry-led body to solve UK skills crisis

UPDATE: Skillfull's Gina Jackson tells that fixing systemic issues may stop the cycle of layoffs

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A new report has called for the creation of an industry-led organisation dedicated to solving the ongoing skills crisis in the UK video games sector.

Published today by games development and publishing training provider Skillfull and penned by the company's founder Gina Jackson, the study explored the high number of job vacancies advertised in 2022 and sought to understand the most pressing skills needs in the UK.

Speaking at the Games Impact Summit in London today (after the initial publication of this article) Jackson presented the key takeaways to the report to a room full of industry professionals, and acknowledged the disparity between the games market in 2022 and the ongoing layoffs in 2024.

"Why now? Why talk about the skills crisis when there seems to be much bigger problems going on?" she said. "Because the problems identified in this report are systemic. We didn't resolve these problems when we were booming in 2022, so if we didn't sort them out then, why not now? If we don't get a grip on our skills talent pipeline, we're never going to be able to grow."

Entitled 'The Skills Crisis in the UK Games Sector,' the report identified a skills crisis at the mid to senior level across various sectors of the industry, particularly development.

The data from its findings were presented to industry stakeholders – including trade body UKIE, Games London, the British Film Institute, games employers, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – who unanimously suggested the creation of a cross-sector skills organisation to tackle this issue.

The new body would be led by an alliance of games employers and would be responsible for leading efforts in working on the report's recommendations, identifying and solving issues with the training and education ecosystem, finding local and national funding that can aid in these efforts, and bringing games companies together to continue working on these issues.

However, there was confusion as to who should be responsible for funding this new body and other recommendations from the report, with suggestions including the UK government, the Creative Industries Council, and industry employers.

"There is a clear misalignment between expectations and agreement on who is responsible and should be responsible for the skills management of the UK games industry," wrote Jackson.

"Without a comprehensive sector-wide framework, we risk perpetuating a cycle of skills crises, falling behind our global counterparts. While many impactful skills projects have yielded positive results, their sustainability is jeopardised by overlapping initiatives and uncertain policy changes."

The report drew on publicly available data on jobs vacancies for UK-based games firms between August 2023 and August 2022, collated by Games Jobs Live; 10,636 individual jobs listings across 234 employers.

Of these, 47% were for experienced positions, 25% for senior, and 17% for manager, compared to just 7% for junior roles. 59% of all roles were open for more than a month, while 1,071 were vacant for more than three months.

In the report, Jackson said this data "indicated that there was a skills crisis and mid to senior level."

She added that since only 7% of roles were few new entrants, there is a "risk of creating a stunted pipeline of skilled workers, which could hinder future growth."

"The UK Games Industry has frequently criticized the talent pipeline ecosystem for its perceived failure to provide work-ready talent with the necessary education and skills," Jackson wrote. "However, we often overlook our own responsibility in shaping the strategy and direction of this ecosystem."

Over the period studied, 24 games employers grew their workforces by 23% (16% when adjusted for acquisitions), rising from a combined 11,059 to 12,859 people. Taking in the full 213 employers, the combined workforce grew by 21.2% from 19,110 to 23,961 over a 12-month period.

Jackson noted that this all preceded the current waves of layoffs, describing the UK games industry as "currently in a state of significant upheaval."

In addition to the creation of a new skills body, the report's recommendations included:

  • The publication of regular data to help inform skills policies and action (Games Jobs Live is currently the only source of regular public data)
  • Action to tackle the deficit in technical and programming training for graduates, with most games-centric university courses focused on art, design and animation
  • Alignment of seniority descriptors for job titles across different companies (Jackson oversed that a senior role at one organised may be the equivalent of an experienced mid-level at another)
  • Increased adoption of apprenticeships, with these roles making up less than 1% of roles advertised in 2022
  • More research into best practices for remote and hybrid working
  • Research into the impact of AI on the industry's skills needs
  • More regional and national funding solutions specifically to address skills needs

You can register to receive a copy of the full skills crisis report for free at Skillfull's website.

Update: spoke to Jackson following her talk at the Games Impact Summit in London today, where she added that simply filling vacancies - as and when they're available - does not solve the skills crisis.

"Do we need more tech artists? Yes, but even if we get more tech artists, it doesn't change the fact that we're not talking to each other, we're not accessing money, we're not creating strategies, we're not working with the ecosystem," she said.

"We have a massive skills apathy, because we don't see it as our problem. And I believe part of that comes from the way we fund our businesses. If your funding is about massive growth, you're just going to pay more for your staff. If we want a different, sustainable industry, where we're not doing boom and bust and we're supporting our talent pipeline, and if people don't want to be continually laid off, we need to look at a different model."

Jackson acknowledged the impact the current wave of layoffs is having on the industry's workforce, and emphasised that fixing the systemic issues that have caused the long-running skills crisis is a key factor in preventing the cycle of layoffs from continuing.

"Most of us have been through it, and we don't understand why or how. We need to understand that because it's really damaging people. I still have that damage from being laid off or from being told my job was at risk, feeling 'What have I done wrong? Why didn't I see it coming?' We can't keep doing that to people."

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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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