Creatives to get 'Next Gen' Skills Academy

A ‘Next Gen’ Skills Academy will open its doors to train the games designers, visual effects artists and animators of tomorrow, thanks to a joint funding initiative from creative firms and government.

The academy, which will receive more than £6million, will both develop and offer entry-level qualifications, high level apprenticeships, short courses and e-learning suites, each of which will be based on employers’ skills needs.

Put another way, the government will add its £2.7m to £3.6m being promised by employers, so a new training centre can “equip learners with the relevant skills” that the games, VFX and animation sectors are “crying out for.”

Such is the assessment of Phil Stilgoe, the chief executive of Centroid. Other companies supporting the initiative include creative heavyweights like Sony Computer Entertainment, Pinewood Studios and Ubisoft Reflections.

Funds from these firms and others will go towards the development of a new online learning platform dedicated to their industries, alongside the development of new nationally-recognised qualifications.

The cash will also help to establish a regional network of further education, industry-led colleges across England, offering over 1,300 qualifications, 150 apprenticeship starts and over 1,000 e-training courses.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The UK’s creative industries are amongst the strongest in the world, worth £71.4 billion per year to the UK economy and supporting more than 1.7m jobs.

“Visual effects and games in particular are a great British success story. But if we’re to maintain our cutting-edge position, we need to make sure that we have the talent and skills the industry needs.”

The initiative, which has already won broad backing (from the BFI, Creative England, Creative Skillset and TIGA), was hailed by the government as merely its latest commitment to the video games industry.

The reference was to the fact that video games companies are now able to claim corporation tax relief for the production of games qualifying under new cultural test regulations, which came into force in August.

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