Brain Jobling
Entrepreneurs Forum

Member Article

Are young people ready for the real world?

It’s Entrepreneurship Week on Bdaily. Brian Jobling is the founder and Chief Executive of global games developer Eutechnyx, which employs 180 people in Gateshead, China, Hong Kong, Germany and the USA, and a board member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. Here, he speaks about the role education plays in producing the world’s best entrepreneurs.

In the coming days thousands of 16-year-olds will be leaving school, my own son being one of them.

With the world changing at such a fast pace and, as a consequence the needs and expectations of employers being so high, you have to wonder how well prepared these young people are.

When you consider that the Chinese government is investing $1.8bn into its technology education system, we also have to ask the question: how well will the next generation compete, not with each other, but with their counterparts on the other side of the world?

It’s clear to me that our schools are not keeping up well enough in the way that they teach IT, but on a positive note our Universities are doing particularly well with their technology courses. For example, 50 per cent of Eutechnyx new recruits are graduates of Teesside University’s video gaming and design course. We harness and nurture them in a direction where they can even surprise themselves by what they’re able to achieve in a commercial environment.

Eutechnyx, as well as many other established businesses, is happy to lend support in whatever way we can, and the Universities are keen to hear what employers can contribute. I’ve been asked by Universities about what we can do to help more in the last five years than in the whole of the 20 years prior. I have been a teaching Professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University for four years and understand the influence China has on our skills market.

We also hire developers in China and while their artistic skills are perhaps superior, thanks in part to the art-dominated culture in which they’ve grown up, I’m happy to report that our UK graduates still excel in programming.

However, without question, the Chinese will catch up due to their commitment to education.

The North East is producing some exciting new entrepreneurial businesses in the gaming sector, such as Double Eleven, in Middlesbrough, plus Icelandic company CCP committed themselves to the region by opening in Gateshead in 2010.

It is a vibrant industry in the North East, and significant in the national picture of game development.

But these businesses need skilled and creative employees in order to grow. It’s imperative that, as a region, we develop the talent both to start new businesses, but also to equip a skilled workforce, otherwise the entrepreneurs may look to grow their organisations elsewhere. If we’re going to retain the entrepreneurial talent that undoubtedly exists, we have to provide the environment in which businesses can flourish, and that means having the right people in our region.

Everyone imagines that manufacturing relies on people’s skills, but I’d argue the technology sector is equally labour intensive. IT and creativity are our raw materials. Without ideas and innovation we cannot move forward on the competitive world wide stage.

We’re in an era when it’s never been easier to start a technology enterprise. When Eutechnyx started 25 years ago there were a lot of barriers – you had to be registered with Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega and Sony and invest many hundreds of thousands of pounds in development kits and employ the best legal counsel before you could even start producing a game. Now you pay Apple $99 to be an app developer and the world is your oyster.

With the growing number of platforms the opportunities for content creators are endless. What’s more, with instant downloads you can take your product straight to market and get immediate feedback from your consumers.

All of this should encourage digital entrepreneurs, because the market opportunities are only going to get bigger.

In the North East, we have to make sure we keep up, not only with China and India but also with the other UK regions.

The developers are educated here but retaining and nurturing this talent can only be successful if we create and supply highly paid jobs and a challenging working environment that the next generation deserve.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Entrepreneurs Forum .

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