September 9, 2009
TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry, today called on the Government to re-double its efforts to drive up educational standards in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the UK economy in general and of the video games industry in particular. TIGA made the comments in response to the publication of the OECDs (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) Education at a Glance report.
Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, said:
The UK must encourage creativity and develop the games designers of the future in order to continue our tradition of award winning and outstanding computer games. Unfortunately, according to the OECDs Education at a Glance report, in 2007 a smaller proportion of the UK population attained an upper secondary school education in comparison to the OECD average. Additionally, approximately 15% of 15-19 year olds were neither in the labour market nor the education system. This entails serious social and economic costs. The OECD report confirms that our secondary school system is not world beating.
More positively, the UKs higher education sector generally compares well internationally. The UK is above the OECD average in respect of the proportion of 25-34 year olds that attained a tertiary education in 2007. A higher proportion of UK university students graduate in comparison to their counterparts in the USA, Canada and Germany. UK higher education is also very attractive to international students. In 2007, after the USA, the UK had the second largest market share for international students (12%).
The UK cannot afford to be complacent. This report is a snapshot of key aspects of education in the OECD countries. It is also an indication of the potential of both the international and the UK workforce in five years time.
TIGA recommends the deployment of stronger financial incentives to attract the best graduates to teach in schools; greater flexibility in the national curriculum to give schoolsthe freedom to teach subjects such as computer science; and information about a career in the video games industry in school to encourage more young people to stick with science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. In tertiary education, tuition fees for mathematics and computer science students should be reduced to incentivise students to study these disciplines. Encouraging more staff exchanges between business and academia through the use of industrial secondments could also repeat benefits for both sides, including enhancing the quality of UK higher education.
The UK also needs to maintain investment in education and spend it wisely. In 2006 the UK spent just under 6% of Gross Domestic Product on primary, secondary and tertiary education, less than the OECD average of 6.1 per cent, Canada (about 6.5%), South Korea (more than 7%); and the USA (more than 7%). Our key competitors also spend substantially more on higher education. Canada, South Korea and the USA spend between 2.5% and 2.9% on tertiary institutions, compared to approximately 1% in the UK. We need to increase the proportion of GDP devoted to tertiary education and spend it well.
The UK video games industry competes to a crucial extent on the quality of its workforce. We need to ensure that our education system generates still more excellent employees for our sector.