BRIC Foundation has teamed with several prominent education, inclusion and entertainment industry organizations to launch a new apprenticeship program geared towards making careers in the animation, visual effects and gaming industries more accessible to those from historically excluded groups.
The BRIC Apprenticeship was created to provide early career awareness, exploration, preparation and training opportunities for students in California public schools. The federally and state-recognized 12-month program, which uses a competency-based model and employer consortium method, aims to support young people from diverse backgrounds between the ages of 16 to 24 in attaining jobs by removing some of the barriers to entry across all three industries.
“Our hope is to increase the employment pathways into the animation, visual effects and gaming industries so we can have a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” BRIC Foundation executive director Nicole Hendrix said in a statement. “Research shows that the more representation there is behind the screens, the more authentic representation appears on the screens, so this investment will help break down barriers and support positive culture change.”
The program includes 144 hours of related supplemental instruction and a paid on-the-job placement for the paths of visual effects artist, tech artist, animator, concept artist, background artist, digital FX artist, production manager, game designer and storyboard artist.
Companies currently participating in the employer consortium include 9B Collective, Dionysus Creative, DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, GRX Immersive, Inov8 Next Labs, Mammal Studios, Psyop, Riot Games, Six Point Harness, Skydance Animation, Terraform Studios and Titmouse.
“Introducing new career pathways opens the door to the untapped talent,” Alton Glass, CEO of GRX Immersive Labs, said in a statement about the company’s involvement with the apprenticeship program.
In his own statement, co-founder and CEO of 9B Collective Studio Phil Boutte Jr. said his company got involved because it “strives to fix the diversity hiring pipeline by infusing it with opportunity, mentorship and guidance.”
“It is our goal to build up BIPOC artists from their formative years up until they find themselves in the creative workforce,” Boutte Jr. continued. “We work to have more creatives of color behind the scenes while providing them with positions of equity on the project and a means to learn the job without being set up to fail.”
Nonprofit BRIC, Women in Animation and the Visual Effects Society teamed with the California Department of Education through its Arts, Media and Entertainment and Career Technical Education industry sector programs to build and launch the apprenticeship program into the studio system. All were also responsible for backward mapping the education and skills needed for industry entry-level positions into California’s public school system, with the Animation Guild (Local 839) and South Bay Workforce Investment Board also involved in executing the program.
The BRIC Apprenticeship was a two-year endeavor that began during a brainstorming event at the 2020 BRIC Summit. Since then, upwards of 80 animation, visual effects and gaming industry leaders alongside educators, union reps, government and nonprofit partners have met monthly to align programs focused on their respective industries in public schools with the creation of a registered youth apprenticeship.
Applications for the apprenticeship are being accepted until Jan. 15, 2023, with more information about the program and eligibility requirements available at bricfoundation.org.