Unity Technologies hopes to groom 80,000 people for game jobs over three years with an education initiative aimed at helping people learn how to program and develop games.
Unity is paying for this program with help from its initial public offering, in which it raised $1.3 billion at a $13.6 billion valuation in September. At the time, it set aside 750,000 shares for the Unity Social Impact fund. That is valued at $83.6 million today, and part of it will be used for the education goal.
I think of this as enlightened self-interest. By training people how to use its tools, Unity creates new customers for its game engine, which is the most popular tool for building games.
Unity’s Jessica Lindl said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company will create learning experiences to help people create a game portfolio, get Unity Certified, and prepare for a new job.
“We’ve formalized a long company philosophy that the world is a better place with more creators in it,” Lindl said. “This strategy is around how we are empowering our employees and our creators to foster a more inclusive and sustainable world.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global recession that has left millions of people around the world out of work. So Unity hopes to address that with an alternative, no-cost path to employment with the launch of “career pathways.”
“We will be focusing on our creators themselves who are fostering social impact,” Lindl said. “I think a huge opportunity here in the midst of a massive global recession where we provide alternative pathways to employment. And specifically, what we’re excited about here with the career pathways is that this is an alternative, no-cost pathway to employment in both the games and the technology industry.”
The 80,000 number isn’t out of reach, as there are more than 1.5 million Unity developers in the world. In the past 13 years, they have learned to use the game engine, and many of them have gotten jobs that way. If you look at how many jobs have been created per year, that averages out to 115,384.
“Our analysis on the job market for the demand generation is 80,000 over three years,” Lindl said.
The pathways are guided learning experiences that help anyone interested in coding and breaking into the gaming and tech industries. You can gain skills for jobs, regardless of prior experience. In other words, you don’t have to go to college.
The initiative is designed for people from a wide range of backgrounds, and supports the company’s commitment to creating inclusive economic opportunities, including for Black and Latinx creators, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Lindl said.
In March, Unity launched a free live learning series teaching people how to code and made Learn Premium available to everyone at no cost. Unity-based skills are in high demand.
“It’s a combination of both live learning and self-paced learning, and that is essentially videos and project-based work,” Lindl said. “Our entire pedagogy is focused on learning while doing and learning while creating.”
According to Hired.com’s “State of Engineering” report, AR/VR and gaming engineers had the highest job growth in 2019, at 1,400% and 146%, respectively. The growth of AR/VR jobs may have slowed since then, but gaming jobs are definitely on the rise.
The first pathway is Unity Essentials, a 1- to 2-week guided learning journey that teaches people Unity basics and is designed for anyone who wants to become familiar with Unity and real-time content creation.
This beginner-friendly pathway features interviews with Unity veterans who share their experiences creating with Unity and showcases the various ways in which Unity is used in industry, from games to film. By the end of this pathway, the students will have created their first game.
The second pathway for junior programmers helps people learn coding skills. This pathway is a 3- to 4-month, 60-hour guided learning journey with no coding or math prerequisites. It will equip programmers with the technical and soft skills needed to find a job as a junior programmer. That job has a median salary of $49,000 a year. Eventually, students can get certified with Unity.
The focus isn’t only on the U.S. Lindl said the company works with different regions that want to create jobs. The country of Senegal is an example where Unity partnered with the government a year ago to help train citizens with Unity tools.
“This is more of a regionalized approach that supplements and supports this global platform,” Lindl said.
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