In 2008, sales generated by the UK video games industry totaled £2 billion. The global market for computer games is predicted to grow annually by 10.6% in the coming years and is expected to reach $86.7 billion in 2014. The UK is in a strong position to capitalize on this growing market, and demand for skilled employees in these industries is high. However, industry reports suggest that the UK has recently slipped from 3rd to 6th in the world development league of computer scientists and artists, and that the education system is failing to produce talent of the standard required (Livingstone, 2011).
Although video games and visual effects are growing industries, only 12% of graduates from specialist UK courses are employed in the games sector six months after graduating. In addition, more people are studying specialist video game courses here than there are jobs in the industry. However, despite this surplus of graduates, 58% of video games employers say that it is difficult to find graduates with the required skills straight out of higher education. This figure rises to 71% of employers in companies with more than 100 employees.
Dissatisfaction with graduate quality is not limited to the video game industry. A poll of major British firms revealed that 75% of bosses think that British graduates are poor across a number of domains, including written and spoken English, technical skills and interpersonal skills.
As a result of the shortcomings of graduates educated at UK specialist video game courses, employers turn to graduates from other countries. 30% of graduates employed in the UK video game industry have studied overseas. The following table shows self-report measures of the kind of skills students feel they are learning during their degrees, and the reports of UK students suggest that our courses are lagging behind overseas courses.
The standard of graduate educated in this country is falling short, and employers know it. Certain UK institutions with industry accreditations have higher employment rates than non-accredited institutions, but on the whole the consensus from industry experts is that most courses do not focus on the specific technical skills needed to create video games.
The UK video game industry provides a case study of why quality of the degree is limiting graduate employment, not saturated job markets. The evidence is clear: UK Universities are producing Universally poor graduates ill equipped for industry and employment.
* Unless stated otherwise all statistics in this blog were obtained from the Next Gen report, which was co-authored by video game industry experts.