World-class Games School opens at The Sharp Project
Local people looking to work in the global gaming industry now have the opportunity to get on the first rung of the ladder with the arrival of a top European gaming school in Manchester called Playground Squad UK.
Based in Sweden, PlaygroundSquad is a successful training company in the gaming industry, recognised by leading Games companies such as Sony PlayStation and Electronic Arts (EA) as a training ground for their employees. The new Manchester school, which will be based at The Sharp Project, Manchester’s digital production complex in Newton Heath, will be the first of its kind in the UK and only the second in the world to publish games for PlayStation.
PlaygroundSquad, who have 14 years’ experience of delivering training in gaming and work with some of the industry’s biggest names, has partnered with The Manchester College, Manchester City Council, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and The Sharp Project to offer up to 60 paid apprenticeships each year in Game Design, Game Programming and Game Art.
Sue Woodward OBE, Director of The Sharp Project and Manchester’s Creative Media Champion said: “It’s fantastic to have persuaded Magnus to make Manchester the first overseas home for PlaygroundSquad. They were targeted as they are world leaders in gaming training. This is the final part of The Sharp Project jigsaw. Five years ago we planned to introduce a games facility to the building. It was always part of the plan, so it’s great to see it come to fruition. The Sharp Project is fast becoming a hub for gaming and skills associated with all kinds of creative digital content from network drama to forensics. Our talented tenants are producing material for a multi-platform world, a world that once was so fragmented but one we have created under one roof. That was the whole point of The Sharp Project – to shift the north from analogue content to converged media. Job done.”
The apprenticeships will give young people aged 16 years and above hands-on, industry-relevant training in the digital gaming industry. In Sweden, over 80 per cent of those completing the two year course find employment post training.
The first free course starts next month and includes a total of 800 hours of training together with work on live industry projects.
Speaking about the company’s arrival in Manchester, Magnus Bjorkman, CEO of PlaygroundSquad, said: “The UK is the centre of game development in Europe so moving our model over here is a natural step for us. Manchester is a fast-growing, forward-looking city that has invested in developing its reputation as a global digital and creative hub. It is an exciting place to be and we are delighted to bring our specialist training to the city and reach out to the talented young people who live here. We want to mirror our success in Sweden and create jobs and employment in this growth sector here in the UK.”
The Manchester College is working closely with PlaygroundSquad on the three types of apprenticeships and the college’s Apprenticeship team will be assessing and providing accreditation for the courses.
Trudy Burrows is Director of Apprenticeship Development at The Manchester College. “This is a unique opportunity to bring new skills to Manchester that will provide the growing digital sector with a key advantage. We are focused on redirecting the college’s Apprenticeship provision in line with the skills requirements of Greater Manchester, giving young people the opportunity to learn the right skills to fill the jobs that are available right here in the region.”
Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council said: “As the digital sector in Manchester continues to grow and create new employment opportunities for local people, it is vital that we help to equip residents with skills they need to take up these roles. This new annual cohort of digital apprentices will become a key part of the talent pool we need to develop. Manchester PSQ will broaden the increasing range of digital apprenticeships and development opportunities now available in Manchester. Their arrival marks another step forwards as we aim to fulfil our ambition to become one of the world’s foremost digital cities.”
Carol Bartram, Employment & Skills Manager at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted that Playground Squad has now moved into the Sharp Project. This is the result of almost 12 months of planning with Magnus at Playground Squad, Manchester City Council and The Manchester College. Playground Squad is offering 60 new games apprenticeship positions between now and June 2014. The Chamber will be funding the apprentice training through the Employer Ownership of Skills programme.”
PlaygroundSquad will employ the apprentices directly in order to establish the project and training offering in Manchester. The long term plan is to work with local and national employers on the programmes. North West gaming companies have already expressed a strong desire to use the training expertise of PlaygroundSquad for their own employees.
The three types of jobs (programmers, artists and designers) are currently available to apply for on the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) website www.apprenticeships.org.uk . The first course starts mid February and a second cohort will be recruited to join the school in May this year.
For more information on Playground Squad please click here.