Dublin digital media players devise plan to reduce skills gap in animation and gaming
John Phelan, Dublin Business Innovation Centre; Ballyfermot College graduate Rachael Wilson; Chris Dicker, Jam Media; and Maureen Conway, principal, Ballyfermot College

Dublin digital media players devise plan to reduce skills gap in animation and gaming

4 Sep 2013

Heavyweights from the digital media industry in Dublin have joined forces with Ballyfermot College, whose graduates include a number of Oscar winners, to ‘Bridge’ the skills gap in the animation and games industries with a new training programme.

Ballyfermot College has joined forces with the Guinness Enterprise Centre and the Dublin Business Innovation Centre and various digital media heavyweights, including Havok, Riot Games and Brown Bag Films, to devise a programme called Bridge to nurture talent for current and future industry needs.

The programme will cover the areas of animation, games and related areas, like visual effects (VFX).

The programme was initiated in June 2013 in response to a skills shortage in the animation and games industries, with 44pc of companies in these and related sectors citing recruitment and staffing as their main business concern.

Demand for talent is now outweighing the supply, with many companies having to hire animators outside of Ireland to support their work.

This has come to the fore recently as Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise Richard Bruton has increased by 700 the employment permits for skilled overseas employees to off-set the shortage in Ireland. If projected growth is realised, more talent needs to enter the industry in Ireland.

“For our graduates, a real-world experience in a live setting with real clients working in partnership with world-class creative companies leads to better experiences and more realistic understanding of the demands of the commercial world,” explained Maureen Conway, principal, Ballyfermot College.

The graduates started the six-month programme in June 2013 in the Guinness Enterprise Centre. Among a community of more than 300 entrepreneurs, they have been working on live professional projects, including short films, adverts, TV pilots, trailers for pitches and video games. They receive expert knowledge from industry leaders and focused mentoring from Dublin BIC.

Projects within programme

The graduates have been working on four projects. The first was to create conceptual artwork for a JAM Media production called Ivor’s Island, including developing characters and sets, with a view to creating a two-minute trailer.

The second project involves developing a demo game and compelling content to showcase Havok’s new Anarchy Platform, on mobile and tablet platforms. All the projects will have input from senior creative and commercial directors from each of the partner studios. Projects from Riot Games and Brown Bag Films are kicking off this month.

The programme is expected to produce industry-experienced graduates who can join existing companies or develop new start-up companies.

David O’Meara, former CEO, Havok, and board member of Dublin BIC said: “There is clearly a disconnect between the needs of the commercial world and the experiences of the graduates. The aim of the Bridge is to create a professional environment where animation and games graduates can demonstrate the skills they have and develop their ability to meet deadlines and work under time pressure in a real-world setting.”

Ireland has received global recognition for its animation industry, which continues to grow and create new jobs. In recent years, Irish companies have produced animation across numerous mediums, such as film, television, web and video games, for companies like RTÉ, BBC, Disney, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. It’s now a multimillion-euro industry, with hundreds of people employed in the sector and it is still growing.

The gaming industry in Ireland is also experiencing significant growth, in scale and reputation. Employment in the Irish-based video-games industry increased 91pc since 2009 to a current estimated total of 3,344 workers and has generated revenues of €2bn since 2001.

Havok and Jam Media were former incubation companies with Dublin BIC and were located at the Guinness Enterprise Centre during their early development. Brown Bag Films and the senior team at Riot Games have also received supports from Dublin BIC.

Other partners in the Bridge include Enterprise Ireland, The Irish Film Board, and Screen Training Ireland.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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