Sumo Digital this week launched a training scheme designed to create alternative pathways into the games industry for graduate talent. Sumo Digital Academy, led by Dr Jacob Habgood, Sumo’s Director of Education Partnerships, is designed to help address the need to expand the talent pool required to meet the UK games industry’s continued growth by recruiting from outside of traditional education channels.
The first four programmer trainees joining the scheme have degrees in Fashion, Physics, History and Philosophy, unusual backgrounds for game development. As pioneers, they will help to shape the Academy programme in advance of plans for a formal apprenticeship scheme. Sumo has already made a significant investment in training to support its existing staff, and the Academy now adds the ability to provide paid training for new entrants. Sumo is working alongside industry partners to develop a recognised postgraduate apprenticeship programme for Game Programming through the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
“The ability to provide training programmes for new entrants will allow the industry to cast the net wider in recruitment, encouraging diversity and tapping into new sources of talent. This doesn’t replace existing routes into the industry but rather expands the talent pool that we have access to. Different courses, different backgrounds, different styles of creativity will all help us to make better games in the future, but it requires time and investment to make this happen,” said Dr Habgood.
The course has a principal goal that upon completion its candidates will be in a position to join one of Sumo’s game development studios in a Junior Programmer role.
One of the trainees joining the scheme is Emma Rogers whose degree is in Fashion Buying and Merchandising. After working in e-commerce within fashion for a year she became interested in the wider possibilities of a more technical career. “This is a world away from what I originally set out to do but I’m genuinely excited for the year ahead. The ability to have hands-on learning will be great, plus we get to actually make something in the process. I can’t wait to get started,” commented Emma.
“With over 750 people across our nine studios it’s only right that we invest heavily in training at every level within the company. A fully recognised apprenticeship scheme for game programmers would be greatly beneficial for the industry, and I have no doubt that other disciplines would follow on from its success. Recruitment continues to be a challenge for every studio in the industry, so this initiative will get us ahead of the game by discovering home-grown stars of tomorrow,” commented Paul Porter, COO, Sumo Group.