UniSA’s new creative industries degree to connect students with key industry players


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By Melissa Keogh

A new bachelor degree at the University of South Australia will prepare students to be ready for a career in creative industries by increasing their employability and connecting them to key industry partners.

UniSA will introduce the first intake of students in the new Bachelor of Creative Industries degree in 2020.

The three-year, full-time undergraduate degree, a first of its kind for SA, will prepare students for a career in the growing creative industries, which include game development, and animation and visual effects, and connect them to one of 12 key industry partners.

Students will choose from a dozen industry majors and build their portfolio of works with companies including Rising Sun Pictures, Writers SA, the State Government’s Department of Innovation and Skills, Guildhouse, Opinion Media, Festivals Adelaide, Channel 44, Mighty Kingdom, State Theatre Company, Adelaide Film Festival and KOJO.

Professor Joanne Cys, Pro Vice Chancellor for the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, says creative industries are a collective of professions and occupations that are based on the generation and application of original, creative IP, skill and talent.

“Creative industries is a broad cluster, it includes performing arts, digital media, multimedia, film and TV, animation and games design, social media, visual effects, web design as well as more traditional areas like architecture, performing and visual arts, creative writing and publishing. It also includes areas of applied design such as events and exhibition design which plays a major role in festivals and expos,” she says.

Students could go on to work as content creators, app designers, digital project managers, social media managers, event directors, festival program managers, film distributors, game designers, animators, publishers, producers, visual effects supervisors, strategic communications managers, film critics or actors.

Prof Cys says confidence is building for students aspiring to work in creative industries, which are often “non-traditional” professions, and that there is real demand for highly skilled creative professionals.

“Certainly, the State Government has had real success in attracting some impressive companies like Technicolor to take up residence here and we can use that as Adelaide’s reputation builds,’ she says. “More companies will follow and create a real creative industries cluster. It’s definitely a growing area locally and globally.”

SA game development studio Mighty Kingdom is proof that the creative industries and gaming in particular are growing sectors in the state. The studio is one of the industry partners that helped collaborate on the development of the new degree, and will provide unique learning experiences for students.

Mighty Kingdom Director of Business Development and Partnerships Dan Thorsland says the business moved into co-working game development centre, Game Plus, with less than 30 employees but is now expecting its workforce to swell to 65 full-time crew in 2020.

“Mighty Kingdom has doubled its staff count and we’ve run out of room within our first year in the facility. So the industry is absolutely growing across multiple sectors,” Dan says.

“Among the top 10 most successful businesses in the country are (Adelaide) game developers Team Cherry. They’ve just picked up a national award … it’s very good times in SA.

“We also have a $70 million film production of work that’s going to hit the stage in terms of the Mortal Combat production piece. If you look at what the creative industries are doing, they’re rapidly growing and it’s a great export business.

“So of course it’s important that an educator like UniSA gets on board because we want to create the jobs and the right skills for those jobs.”

Some of the Mighty Kingdom team when they first moved into the studio at Game Plus.

Dan says students majoring in games design and production will develop appropriate software skills, collaboration skills and awareness of how the gaming market operates.

“We want to do something very similar to what Rising Sun Pictures has been doing for a few years now in their studio. They have a dedicated space where students can work near the production floor, not on the production floor, so there’s no problems with some of the IP that we have … the idea is that the students engage in a consistent long-term industry placement, and work in teams on (their own) projects,” he says.

Mighty Kingdom already runs a year-long paid graduate program from which it has gone on to hire a number of aspiring game developers.

“We’ve had (graduates) from UniSA who we’ve hired right off the bat,” Dan says. “UniSA provides us with a unique opportunity to get the students to complete their degree within a production environment. It allows us to identify who we want to hire and really give them those relevant skills so we could onboard them straight into a permanent role.”

Applications for the Bachelor of Creative Industries will open in August for entry in February 2020. For more information see the UniSA website.

Feature image is Keachie Manalastas, a UniSA graduate currently working at Mighty Kingdom.

Industry in focus: Careers of the Future

Throughout the months of May and June, future careers in South Australia will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

Embracing innovation, creativity and an understanding of building quality partnerships with technology is key to ensuring career opportunities in the future. SA is taking necessary steps to equip future generations with the skills for future careers and current workforces to transition to the future industries.

Read more Careers of the Future stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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