18 June 2013 15:07

Video games classes could be key to keeping more disengaged youngsters in education and help plug a growing skills gap in the industry, an authoritative academic study has revealed.

The work, carried out by Lancaster University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), has shown how basing educational projects around video games can get hard-to-reach youngsters interested in learning.

A major spin-off of that would be a pool of talented new recruits to Britain’s burgeoning video gaming and effects industry – which is struggling to fill vacancies with UK workers.

The project, run by Inspire Opportunities and carried out earlier this year, involved 15 secondary schools through the Wolverhampton area Local Education Partnership. More than 100 youngsters were involved.

The findings, which have been seen by Government advisers, shows a way forward to cutting the numbers of youngsters who end up not in employment, education and training (NEET).

Leading academic Professor Don Passey, Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning and a Co-Director of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning at Lancaster University, produced the study.

He said: “If the level of outcomes from this project could be replicated across the UK, then 5,000 more young people would be likely to become interested in the video games and video effects industries each year.

“It has also shown how young people, who were disengaged from learning and likely to become NEET, can become re-engaged. We believe its findings are significant.”

Professor Tony McEnery, the Dean of FASS, said: “The CBI is calling for industry and business to become more connected with education, and vice-versa. This project fits directly into that arena, in terms of the development of key skills.”  

Professor Chris May, Associate Dean: Enterprise and Employability for FASS, added: “The details of the research have been released as part of a knowledge exchange programme, highlighting the economic impact and promoting the benefit to business and the wider community of academic research.”

The pilot scheme encouraged teachers in the schools to bring together teams of young people to use the PlayStation 3 game Little Big Planet 2, to create new levels that would be published and used by other players.