For our latest Network Insider interview, we caught up with Gareth Lee, Network Manager of Animation Skillnet to find out how the network supports the animation and related sectors in Ireland.
Name of Network: Animation Skillnet
Number of members: 150 Approx.
Sector(s) covered: Animation, Games, Visual Effects
Year established: 2013
Please describe what your network does and how it came about?
Animation Skillnet was established in 2013 by Dublin Business Innovation Centre, our promoting organisation, to address the current and future vital skills needs of the animation, games and visual effects (VFX) sectors in Ireland.
The network has helped the sector to develop since then, through a period of significant growth, by running and supporting flexible, bespoke, specialist courses and events that have been designed and delivered by industry professionals to address the needs identified by sector.
Can you outline one key way your network impacted positively on the sector?
Animation Skillnet has run the 6-month Animation and VFX Graduate Traineeship Programme for the animation and VFX sectors in Ireland (in collaboration with Screen Skills Ireland) for the last 4 years. This programme has impacted significantly on bridging the gap between education and industry by providing a real-world, work-based learning programme for recent graduates that has often led to full-time work in the sector for participants.
What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?
As the sector has grown and developed in recent years, the focus of the network has shifted too in that the courses and events delivered have in recent times become more focused on transversal skills such as Emotional Intelligence, Creative Leadership and Managing Teams. Provision of these types of courses through the network is now helping the sector to grow even more and is helping to develop future leaders within the sector.
What new trends do you see emerging within your industry?
Although animation is seen as a creative industry, it is also very much part of the ICT sector and technological change is having a massive effect on production pipelines and delivery methods. There is also a huge amount of crossover now between animation, games, visual effects and AR/VR in that technological advances in one area can impact enormously on other areas, especially in terms of efficiencies. There is also now an increasing push in the sector towards not just providing content or service work but towards developing and commercialising IP (Intellectual Property).
What skills do you think are most important for a small business owner/manager?
One of the most important skills for an SME owner-manager relates to knowing your staff team, in terms of the strengths of the team, but also knowing the skills gaps that need to be addressed. People are crucial to any organisation so knowing your people and developing those people will lead to betters results in terms of productivity but also in terms of staff retention. Other key skills for an SME owner/manager would be management and leadership skills. More and more in the animation sector, we see the value, especially in the creative industries, of skills linked to emotional intelligence and creative thinking.
Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet network?
The key reason for a business to join a network is that the Skillnet Ireland model is industry-focused, flexible and subsidised. Companies often find that by being part of a network they become more involved in the sector or the region as a whole, allowing them to see the sector from the perspective of others as well as the bigger picture in relation to the overall status of the sector or region. For Animation Skillnet, this type of collaborative and knowledge-sharing approach has served the sector well.
Animation Skillnet is co-funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.