It’s no secret that in the new economy, talent is the new bedrock upon which 21st century specialized industries lie. It wasn’t always like that. In the past, land had to be owned in order to produce most of what was valuable; it was the main production factor. After the industrial revolution everything changed and capital (in the form of machines and money) were the key factors to boost value creation. It turns out that in the Knowledge Economy we live in right now, things have changed again.
Talent is now the main production factor to create value
International companies compete for talent and sometimes this competition is more desperate that the competition for customers. The reason for that is simple: there’s not as much talent as there is demand driven by companies’ needs. And this demand is growing because some industries don’t have a problem imagining and developing products. Indeed, companies are able to create great products and services that people love, so demand for them in the consumer market is high and growing for this high value-added, specialized and, typically, technology- driven products and services. This translates into companies wanting to create more value, but many of them are having a hard time figuring out how to staff their teams, due to the lack of the right talent in the right amount.
Total value of the global Animation, Visual Effects and Videogames industry
To give you a point of contact of what kind of size and growing behaviour some of these industries exhibit, the total value of the global Animation, Visual Effects and Videogames industry was US$ 259 billion in 2018 and it’s projected to reach US$ 270 billion by 2020, a report by Research and Markets show. The spend on special effects alone as a percentage of total production cost of an audiovisual product is about 20 – 25%. These are huge numbers and rapidly growing industries.
The problem is that in these industries there’s a well-known skills shortage worldwide that threatens companies’ growth. Just in the videogame area, a 2017 research by TIGA, the UK network for games developers, digital publishers and the trade association representing the Games Industry, pointed out that almost 90% of companies expected to grow in subsequent years, and 64% of the companies surveyed expected their profits to rise. However 16% of respondents worried about a skill shortage in the videogame sector being a hurdle for future growth. To make things a little bit more worrying for the UK, 15% of UK game developers’ staff is from the EU, raising concerns that Brexit will mean more difficulties in finding skilled workers.
So, from a solution-finding point of view, it seems there’s no other alternative to this skills crisis than to start training more and more people in those skills needed in growing and specialized industries, like the Animation, Visual Effects and Videogames industry. This seems the only way to provide students and tech workers with the opportunity of landing a job in a flourishing area of the economy and, at the same time, helping to solve the shortage those industries are facing.
La Laguna University has just launched its own Master in Videogame Development
The Canary Islands are no strangers to the industries mentioned above, with companies like El Ranchito, creators of the visual effects for the HBO hit series Game of Thrones, from which they snatched an Emmy, amongst other awards, Amuse, the French animation studio who opened a studio named Birdland in Gran Canaria or Drakhar Studios, a Spanish videogame company, established on their soil. They have already put in place incentives for audiovisual productions like the 50% of tax rebate (the highest in Europe) for animation and post-production projects developed here or the 45% of tax rebate for videogames development but the also heeded the need of available talent.
One of these new efforts is being carried through by the university Universidad de La Laguna, in Tenerife, via its Master in Video Game Design and Development. The aim of the Canary university is to provide a solid knowledge base for students to be able to be eligible to join the workforce in the videogame industry and be productive from day one.
A Syllabus spanning videogame design, development and production, as well as Artificial Intelligence for videogames or 3D videogame technology are the backbone of the master. So, students will be taught the basic skills needed in the industry with a hands-on approach that focuses on getting them ready for their professional lives. It’s kind of a ‘hit the ground running’ approach to training that companies tend to appreciate.
Initiatives like this fill in the gaps in the education system and that’s key to match the demand of fast growing industries in the new economy. So, one has to welcome it and hope more of these appear in the near future in places that want to be friendly to companies and Knowledge Economy workers alike.