From education to employment

Government must support further education to make the grade in the video games sector

Dr Richard Wilson OBE, CEO – TIGA

#ProtectStudentChoice – A few months ago, students across the UK received their A Level and BTEC results, enabling them to progress to their next stage of their education or enter working life.

Yet, the colleges and sixth forms instrumental in delivering the courses that set many people up for successful careers have been the relative losers from education spending changes over the past 25 years, compared to other education sectors.

Funding per student aged 16–18 fell by over 11% in real terms between 2010–11 and 2020–21 in further education (FE) and sixth form colleges, and by over 25% in school sixth forms.

The Government must find a way to call time on the long-term neglect of the UK’s FE sector. 

The Government should support the courses and qualifications that work for students and employers. The FE sector has long provided qualifications that are vital to supplying the skills that many British industries need. In the video games industry, FE contributes to the supply of talent to help maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global games development. Government changes to vocational and technical qualifications, including plans to withdraw funding for BTECs, could undermine this pipeline of talent.

A common pathway into the video games sector for many young people is to progress to a games-specific degree programme following a BTEC qualification. For example, the Level 3 BTEC in Creative Media Practice (Game Development) course at Leeds City College delivers programming, art, design, and audio skills relevant to the games industry. 72% of the students on this course proceed to higher education after completing their Level 3 qualification (the remaining students go onto employment and apprenticeships).

Leading learning company Pearson works closely with industry experts to provide qualifications and training to support people to access careers in important and thriving industries. A number of Pearson’s BTECs support routes into employment in the video games sector, offering high-quality, career-focused qualifications grounded in the real world of work, giving learners the knowledge and skills employers and universities are looking for. More than half of students on some university games degree programmes will study for and achieve BTECs prior to studying for a university degree course.

Government plans for T-Levels, apprenticeships and a flexible lifelong loan entitlement for learners are all well and good. Yet, if we are to seriously address the UK’s long standing skill challenges and vocational weaknesses, then the Government must commit to providing the FE sector with the necessary financial muscle and strongly support the proven valuable courses that bolster the UK’s most promising industries.

Dr Richard Wilson OBE, CEO – TIGA

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