Barbados, Eastern Caribbean youth for animation, software development training

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Four hundred young men and women in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean will be equipped to participate in the global multi-billion dollar mobile application and animation industries. The Caribbean Development Bank, along with partners, will fund training under the Caribbean Animation and Technology Capacity Building Programme (Carib-AniTech).

CDB will jointly finance the two-year capacity building programme which builds on previous and ongoing work to promote the growth and development of the animation and mobile applications software development sectors in the region. This project will complement work currently being done on animation and mobile applications software development in Jamaica by enhancing outreach to include Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Carib-AniTech will build on the success of the Digital Jam; Girls Coding; and KingsTOON interventions in Jamaica, and will offer young entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn critical business skills, connect with angel investors, and benefit from a strategic network. It will also provide the animation industry with the trained animators it needs to qualify for international contracts.

CDB has allocated a grant of USD500,000 toward the programme, while the government of Jamaica will provide JMD4.17mn, the World Bank USD400,000 and the private sector, USD80,000.

This capacity building programme is designed to assist in improving the competitiveness of Barbados and member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector by leveraging existing support services in Jamaica. Carib-AniTech will provide opportunities for animators and mobile applications software developers to enhance their skills through regional and local capacity building activities, in addition to facilitating increased access to financing instruments to assist in growing their operations.

The programme will include: sensitization and outreach to students of secondary, tertiary and technical and vocational schools; capacity building for animation and mobile applications software development by way of training workshops, a regional competition, opportunities to pitch to investors and mentorship; scholarships to attend courses in Jamaica; and, knowledge management focused on gathering data that will help assess the status and viability of animation and mobile app software development sectors across the Caribbean.

Once fully developed, it is estimated that there is room for 5,000 Caribbean young men and women to join the chain of suppliers of animation and mobile app software services. The value of the animation industry is estimated to have reached USD222.8 billion globally, with animation-related derivatives having exceeded $500 billion. Together with the gaming industry, this industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 13% in the near-medium term, with some of the faster growing Regions, such as East Asia expected to grow by over 19% annually. 

The animation industry’s most important market is North America, which represents the top market both in terms of consumption and in terms of the number of animation companies in operation, with an estimated 42% of the latter. It is further estimated that 90% of the sub-contracting work in the animation field is accounted for by Asia. However, with demand for animation content booming in the Asian market, a recent trend emerging is one where a number of animation providers that would have traditionally relied on outsourcing jobs now shift to becoming providers of animation content, thus providing the space for new entrants.

According to leading international animation companies, there is a demand gap of about 30,000 animators in the outsourcing of animation production, of which approximately 5,000 could possibly be sourced in the Caribbean.

CDB and partners view this as another route out of unemployment and poverty among the 18 – 35 age group. Given the low-entry barriers into the profession, (roughly 80% of animation work today is based on 2D platforms, which do not require formal degrees), a significant number of youth who may not have had the benefit of access to post-secondary school education and exposure to this industry can now pursue animation as a viable career option. Graduates with stronger backgrounds also have the opportunity to participate in the growing field of 3D animation and special effects, which requires more sophisticated training and offers more income earning potential.

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