The tech industry, as a result of the pandemic, has seen the pace of change accelerate at a faster pace than in the previous several years combined. Millions of people across the world have been forced to work from home and have been unable to travel freely – this has been the main driver of change in three key areas that demand skills in Unreal.

To cope with workplace restrictions, the Virtual Reality industry has risen to the challenge of overcoming physical barriers, while the film/TV industry turned to Virtual Production. Shows like The Mandalorian is a great showcase of how much the technology has advanced. The launch of the next generation gaming consoles and PC hardware has also led to major industry growth in Gaming.

Demand outstripping supply

Unsurprisingly, the demand for real-time 3D skills is outpacing the growth of the labour market – based on Burning Glass’s research, the labour market’s demand for skills with game engine experience is rapidly increasing – demand for these skills has grown 601% faster than the market itself. Over the next ten years, demand for talent with Unreal Game Engine skills is projected to grow 122%, and demand for those with Unity competence is expected to grow 72%. As more industries implement XR technology, the demand for skills in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is projected to grow even more (207% for AR, 189% for VR). So, the battle for talent starts now.

When it comes to attracting talent, the majority of skilled Unreal professional’s favour game development, film production, and visual effects (VFX) industries rather than the XR, VR, MR industry, as they’re considered to be more prestigious, attractive, and offer higher salaries.

For the XR industry to effectively compete for Unreal talent with companies that are perceived to be more exciting and fast-growing, XR companies have to raise their industry profile from being mainly used for training and simulation, to showcase their true potential, diverse applicability, and ability to offer an equally exciting career. XR companies have the potential to offer a much broader playground – from collaborative design to digital twin visualisation, architectural visualisation and immersive gaming etc.  

A career in XR often requires a combination of abilities such as software development, 3D design, UI/UX skills, resulting in Unreal XR professionals generally having a more diverse set of skills than in other industries. A lot of the fastest-growing jobs in today’s tech economy are hybrid jobs or slash positions meaning they require a merge of skill sets.

How can XR companies win the battle?

To raise the profile of the XR industry, attract the best talent with Unreal skills and not be forced into a bidding war, it’s key that the XR industry take a proactive approach to:

  1. Showcase the diversity of Unreal engine projects they’re working on to attract talent from other competing industries
  2. Collaborate with the education sector and engage in redesigning training to merge technology and creative skills in an interdisciplinary way and align academia with the industry’s needs.
  3. Invest in Early Talent Programs to actively engage with school leavers and graduates to promote the benefits of a career in the XR industry
  4. Unlock the potential of a global workforce and ‘hire without borders’ to obtain access to talent pools in other countries

The battle for Unreal talent will only be won by XR organisations seeing this as a sector issue and through collaboration and vision can continue to benefit from the positive consequence of the pandemic and overcome potential barriers to growth.

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