“Tier 2 and tier 3 cities hold tremendous potential for growth in the AVGC-XR sector, given the rise of innovative content creation on popular social media platforms,” says Mr. Sanjay Khimesara, Director at Horizon Institute of Design and President at Asifa India.
To learn more about Animation, VFX, Gaming, Comics and Extended Reality (AVGC-XR) sector, the entrepreneurship and training opportunities, need for skill development programs, internships and apprenticeships for the youth and more, we spoke with Mr. Sanjay Khimesara, Director at Horizon Institute of Design and President at Asifa India.
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full conversation on our YouTube channel.
Q. In AVGC-XR sector, each sub-sector holds immense job potential. How are we preparing to leverage these opportunities for entrepreneurship, full-time, and gig jobs?
A. One crucial aspect to note is that AVGC-XR is a sector with vast potential, offering opportunities for employment, self-employment, freelancing, and entrepreneurship. It necessitates strategic planning, with a specific emphasis on education and skill development. Additionally, support for incubation and startups requires a significant boost. Collaborations between industry and academia play a pivotal role, along with efforts in networking and hosting conferences dedicated to this sector. Government policies, especially those supporting the industry, are crucial. Global collaboration is essential due to the dynamic international landscape, where India has room for specific improvements. Another vital aspect is the promotion and awareness needed in this field. Lastly, there is substantial room for development in infrastructure within the AVGC-XR sector.
Q. What’s the current status of AVGC and XR policy? Can it align with NEP 2020’s focus on courses for job creation in educational institutions?
A. The Government of India submitted its recommendations for the budget of 2022 at the end of the previous year, followed by extensive consultations through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, involving various states. The policy, now approved and in alignment with the Prime Minister’s office, is expected to bring positive developments to the sector soon. Implementation efforts include the establishment of a National Center of Excellence in mobile, showcasing proactive steps. Similar to the education policy, schools and colleges are actively embracing the changes. Recognizing India’s diversity, inclusiveness at all levels becomes paramount. Numerous synergies are unfolding, particularly in job creation. Notably, the gaming industry is thriving, and with abundant opportunities present in animation, visual effects, and digital media. A book on “Exciting Careers in Digital Media”, co-authored with a friend, highlights 72 job profiles across various domains. Importantly, the sector welcomes individuals with diverse skill levels, offering opportunities for both creative and operational roles, making it accessible to a wide range of enthusiasts.
Q. With new opportunities arising in editing and AI-enabled tools, how can we rapidly train and connect youth to markets where they can sell their services?
A. A swift approach to reaching people is through online education platforms and mobile learning, capitalizing on high penetration rates. With increased media consumption, the industry holds immense potential, necessitating streamlined efforts and collaboration with industry leaders. Affordability remains a challenge, highlighting the need to standardize programs, offer scholarships, and establish regional partnerships for widespread benefits. Implementing certification programs, recognizing those in the last mile, and promoting continuous learning are essential. Work-integrated programs and industry internships, emphasizing placements, create valuable opportunities that require proper channelization. Government support remains crucial for the overall growth of the sector.
Q. Given the growing prominence of India as a content creation hub, specifically in animation, what are the top three critical priorities for the sector’s growth?
A. In shaping the animation and content creation industry, three critical priorities emerge, each contributing to a well-rounded and thriving sector:
- Comprehensive Skill Development Programs: Prioritize initiatives that foster well-rounded skill development tailored to the dynamic demands of the animation and content creation field.
- Industry Collaboration and Innovation: Cultivate collaborations within the industry, emphasizing research and development, establishing incubation hubs, and fostering international partnerships to drive innovation.
- Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion in Culture: Leverage India’s rich cultural heritage to create indigenous content, placing emphasis on diversity and inclusion within the workforce. Promote cultural exchanges to enhance international relevance.
In addition to these critical points, we also need to consider:
- Specialized Curriculum and Standardization: Advocate for specialized curricula addressing the diverse fields within the sector and work towards standardization to reduce confusion and ensure quality education.
- Continuous Learning and Regulation: Encourage a culture of continuous learning and implement proper regulations to streamline and organize the sector, promoting ongoing improvement and adaptation.
- Implementation of NSQF Levels: Propose the adoption of the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) levels across the sector to standardize skill recognition and development at all levels.
These strategic focuses collectively aim to elevate the animation and content creation industry by aligning skills, fostering innovation, promoting cultural diversity, ensuring quality education, and adapting to evolving demands.
Q. How can we train women and individuals in tier 2 and tier 3 cities for remote work in animation, leveraging the creative potential observed on various social media platforms?
A. Tier 2 and tier 3 cities hold tremendous potential for growth in the animation sector, given the rise of innovative content creation by individuals on platforms like Instagram, YouTube etc. Regulators, skilling councils, and NGOs play a vital role in shaping this growth. Engaging with ministries and educational boards is essential to bridge the gap between the large number of students passing grades 10 to 12 and the limited entry into the animation sector, which offers a vast number of opportunities.
Online education, hands-on guidance at various levels, and practical training are crucial components for success. For instance, during the COVID period, we offered a program, ‘Andreal’ with a fellowship of $5,000, resulting in a significant impact on women creators. Incentivizing such initiatives at the grassroots level can lead to transformative outcomes, as seen in the success of supporting women in animation. Informal mixers and inclusive events contribute to creating awareness and support networks for women across the country.
Q. Please share any advice to the youth who are passionate about entering the AVGC-XR sector.
A. My advice to young individuals aspiring to enter the animation sector is to embrace a positive and solution-oriented approach. This industry thrives on positivity and offers vast opportunities in information, communication, entertainment, and education. Cultivate patience and curiosity as these are the foundations of growth. Commit to continuous learning and consider developing specialization or expertise. Start early, engage in internships, and participate in film festivals to showcase your work. Focus on portfolio development and consider entry-level apprenticeships. Beyond technical skills, emphasize the importance of soft skills, effective communication, and language proficiency. Stay inspired, adapt to changes, and approach challenges with a creative and entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks; instead, seek better projects and always remain open to guidance from industry experts.