Friday, 1 February 2019

Come and Mend the Gap on Monday

Next week on Monday 4th February Film London is hosting an event in the capital titled: Mend the Gap - a debate on animation training and employment.

There are over 100 university courses in the UK teaching animation, but few of them prepare students with the practical skills they will need to find work in industry.  Instead, many courses tend to focus on academic content, writing essays on animation rather than actually doing it.  As a result, many animation studios recruit entry-level talent from European animation schools, not from the UK. So what can be done to fix the problem?

The event takes place at Escape Studios, 190 High Holborn, in central London. Film London asked the speakers to say a few words about what they the problems are, in order to help shape the debate on Monday.

Natalie Busuttil
Natalie Busuttil – Studio Manager, Nexus Studio
“As a leading force in the global animation/VFX industry we need to do more to nurture home-grown talent. It’s time to take inspiration from the European schools and think about how we can help UK students and institutions to raise their game.”

Eddie McCaffrey – Senior Lecturer on BA Film (Production) at Middlesex University
“More than ever, academia has a vital role in helping to address the industry skills gap. But it requires cooperation, partnership and innovative thinking between, and on, all sides.”

Greg Wade – Policy Manager at Universities UK
“Surveys show satisfaction with graduate skills are high across all sectors yet many employers still express concerns about skills gaps. Sometimes it is unclear what these skills gaps are, the only way to solve this challenge is to bring employers and universities together as partners in developing talent, not just meeting immediate skills needs but building the skills for future success.”

Shelley Page
Shelley Page – Independent Talent Executive
“Graduates from the top international schools succeed in the global animation industry thanks to excellent training in a full range of animation techniques, working on group projects which can achieve the highest quality of storytelling and film making techniques, and learning about entrepreneurship and how to promote their work to producers, investors and distributors. Do the UK schools really provide equivalent educational opportunities to enable our graduates to fully compete in the jobs marketplace?"

Alexander Williams - Head of Animation at Escape Studios
"The problem with university education in the UK is that the teaching tends to focus largely on thinking and writing, and not enough on doing. Animation is a craft skill".

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor – Executive Chair Animation UK
“This event couldn’t be more pertinent or timely. With skills gaps and shortages on the increase and 30 % of our workforce from the EU, there is real concern about immigration and visa costs. We urgently have to mend the skills gap and address the gap between industry and higher education.”

Gareth Ellis-Unwin - Head of Film for ScreenSkills
“We know there are higher education courses of mixed value to any young person whose goal is actually to work in the screen industries, especially a booming sector such as animation. That is why we have our quality mark for those courses judged industry-relevant, which we are constantly working on improving in importance and relevance. But we also need employers to take a more active role in supporting accreditation and work place opportunity, if we are really going to get the skilled workers everyone needs.”

Mend the Gap is an opportunity to shine a light on the meaning and purpose of teaching animation at university.  Should animation be a purely academic subject? Or should it focus largely on practical, craft skills, preparing students for the workplace?  Here at Bucks we strongly favour the latter approach, ensuting that our students are job-ready for industry.

If you are a student or educator with an interest in getting involved in finding a solution to this problem, and would like to come along on Monday, send me an email at


For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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