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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Skills for the UK digital economy

Late last year, I attended an early briefing about a soon-to-be-published report on the future of video games and visual effects in the UK. That report has now been published [PDF]. I attended a Westminster briefing today, in London, to discuss how the education system should react to the report. The report was funded by NESTA, which produced a short video to illustrate the findings.


The presenters emphasised the importance of video games and visual effects to the current and future UK economy, and expressed concerns about the education system (which are fully explained in the report). There were specific concerns about the school curriculum, particularly the emphasis on ICT rather than computer science, the unpopularity of STEM subjects, and the lack of women in IT (currently 15% of accepted applicants to Computing degrees are women).

The point was also made that using, and writing, computer games can develop a wide range of contemporary skills, including creativity, analytical thinking and team working, which most modern education systems seek to deliver.

Scotland has a strong background in this sector, and SQA has the best developed portfolio of computer games qualifications in the UK. We also haven't experienced the huge reductions in students studying Computing that has happened in the rest of the UK (57% reduction in A Level Computing since 2001 and 33% reduction in Computing degrees since 2002). But there is a lot in the report (it contains 20 recommendations) that everyone in education needs to think about.

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