68% of UK games developers are suffering from skill shortages

TIGA’s new report reveals that most game studio hires are of pre-established industry workers

68% of UK games developers are suffering from skill shortages

TIGA, The Independent Game Developers' Association has revealed the results of new research into the UK’s games workforces and shortages in development skills. Findings in the TIGA Skills Report 2023 include that 68% of studios are struggling to fill workforce vacancies and 59% feel that their company's growth is being hindered due to this.

TIGA’s report is based on survey results from 20 games businesses employing 3,885 developers, representing 16% of the total games development workforce in the UK. Respondents participated in September 2023 and covered a range of gaming sectors from console to PC to VR and, of course, mobile.

Seeking skillsets

TIGA’s research has found that in the past year, the job role most affected by a skills shortage has been programming, with 24% of businesses unable to find suitable employees for this field. Art and design followed with 22% struggling to fill vacancies in each.

Of the games companies experiencing skills shortages, 59% have had their growth hindered and just as many have had product and service development delayed. 64% have had a greater need for outsourcing work and a huge 73% have had to increase the workload put upon pre-established staff members.

Importantly, hires within the games industry are predominantly made from other companies in the sector, with "poaching" of skilled staff common while only 21% of hires are new graduates and a minute 0.5% are apprentices. This means the number of new workers gaining industry experience is highly limited.

Making a difference

Development studios are showing commitment to training staff, however. 41% of respondents in TIGA’s survey are providing on-the-job employee training and 28% provide formal courses, though neither leads to an official qualification.

"The UK video games industry invests in training, but skill shortages persist and can hinder business growth and production. At the very least the Government should follow the principle of the Hippocratic Oath and refrain from doing harm," said TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson.

"The skills shortage in the UK video games industry is having serious implications for games development studios and other associated businesses. We call on the Government to support us in addressing these issues to ensure the continued growth of individual games companies and the UK games industry in general," added TIGA chairman and Rebellion creative director Jason Kingsley.

TIGA’s full report proposes a number of solutions to the UK skills crisis and highlights strategies developers are leveraging to handle, and even overcome, this industry-wide issue.

After a swathe of acquisitions, new research from the BFI has found that over half of all UK games developers are now owned by overseas entities.

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