Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) has launched today its first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking talent training program called Level Up U. This immersive program prepares non-industry professionals and develops industry professionals to become full-time game developers. The program launches at a time when the industry's demand for engineering talent outpaces the available qualified professionals with game development experience and the necessary job requirements.
"Talent and diversity have always been critical to our success. The rapid growth of the industry, including our franchises, has made it clear that we need to find new ways to attract and grow talent," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. "This is the first of many Level Up U programs, and our plan is to expand to other skill areas such as art and animation. I'm incredibly excited about the potential of Level Up U."
Through a combination of on-site and virtual training, Level Up U is a 12-week program that prepares and develops professionals for engineering positions at Activision and Blizzard. The first class is made up of 104 participants, including external candidates as well as current employees, interested in upleveling their engineering expertise or switching to engineering from other backgrounds. After a rigorous application process, they come to Activision Blizzard with a diverse set of skills from a wide variety of industries including medicine, finance, and aerospace.
Level Up U is Activision Blizzard's first major program funded through the $250 million investment announced last October to accelerate opportunities in gaming and technology for under-represented communities. As a result of recruiting for a broader set of skills, experiences, and capabilities, we were able to attract a diverse class, with 40% of the class representing underrepresented ethnic groups and 45% women and non-binary participants.
"We looked at a broader set of skills, experiences, and capabilities that we believe matter most to an employee's success at Activision Blizzard and revisited where those skills exist in the market," said Julie Hodges, Chief People Officer of Activision Blizzard. "We hope this will lead to greater talent mobility both within Activision Blizzard and in the games industry."
The program is led by Tad Leckman, Dean of Level Up U and a twenty-year learning and development veteran. He has created training programs for artists, designers, writers, and engineers at Industrial Light and Magic, Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games and Lucasfilm Animation. In addition to his work in the entertainment industry, he has taught at various universities including the University of California Santa Cruz.
Leckman, in partnership with internal learning teams, game engineers, and external partners, created a curriculum that provides participants with the technical skills required of the job, an understanding of game development fundamentals, and important skills for working as part of a team, including problem-solving, communications, adaptability, and inclusion. Participants will have the opportunity to integrate their skills and apply their coursework by working on a two-week, hands-on project using one of Activision Blizzard's robust game engines to make a unique, playable game mode. Each week, the program will include discussions and insight from game developers across multiple Activision Blizzard studios, and exposure to the company's leadership through formal and informal community-building events.
Every candidate joins Level Up U as a full-time employee. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will continue to be coached and mentored by employees as they integrate into roles at Activision Blizzard that fit their individual skills.
About Activision Blizzard
Our mission, to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment, has never been more important. Through communities rooted in our video game franchises, we enable hundreds of millions of people to experience joy, thrill and achievement. We enable social connections through the lens of fun, and we foster purpose and a sense of accomplishment through healthy competition. Like sport, but with greater accessibility, our players can find purpose and meaning through competitive gaming. Video games, unlike any other social or entertainment media, have the ability to break down the barriers that can inhibit tolerance and understanding. Celebrating differences is at the core of our culture and ensures we can create games for players of diverse backgrounds in the 190 countries our games are played.
As a member of the Fortune 500 and as a component company of the S&P 500, we have an extraordinary track record of delivering superior shareholder returns for over 30 years.
Our enduring franchises are some of the world's most popular, including Call of Duty(R), Crash Bandicoot(TM), Warcraft(R), Overwatch(R), Diablo(R), StarCraft(R), Candy Crush(TM), Bubble Witch(TM), Pet Rescue(TM) and Farm Heroes(TM). Our sustained success has enabled the company to support corporate social responsibility initiatives that are directly tied to our franchises. As an example, our Call of Duty Endowment has helped find employment for over 100,000 veterans.
Learn more information about Activision Blizzard and how we connect and engage the world through epic entertainment on the company's website, www.activisionblizzard.com.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements:
Information in this press release that involve Activision Blizzard's expectations, plans, or intentions regarding the future, including statements about future plans for Level Up U and our ability to attract, retain, and motivate skilled personnel are forward looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. We caution that a number of important factors, many of which are beyond our control, could cause our actual future circumstances to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements, including the factors regarding the success of Level Up U, and the factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and Activision Blizzard does not assume any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors, some of which are beyond Activision Blizzard's control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.
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SOURCE: Activision Blizzard, Inc.
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