Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme, whose sphere of activity is centered on the Spanish Canary Islands, is running an employability program to train youngsters in the new professions which, thanks to Big Data and the Internet of Things, are drastically changing the needs of the labor market. Data management in its numerous forms, including in audiovisual applications, is increasingly a skill called for in the job offers posted by companies.
TEXT: RAQUEL VIDALES IMAGES: FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE GUANARTEME
“I’ve been looking for a course like this for ages. In the Canaries there’s never been anything like it. And overseas, on the Peninsula, the few that I saw were too expensive and I couldn’t afford them.” These are the words of Yonay Benítez, 29 years old, one of the 20 students selected from the 80 candidates who applied last March to attend the 3D Animation course organized in Gran Canaria, thanks to a collaboration agreement between the Cabildo (local authorities) and Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme.
From a young age, Yonay had no doubt that he wanted to work in graphic design and audiovisual production, but he had never had access to top-flight training in this field. “When I finished high school, I started working in all kinds of jobs: factory machine operator, supermarket delivery boy, and I even joined the Army. Meanwhile, in the evenings, I studied what I really liked on my own at home: computer-aided design. Little by little I learned more, set up a website and started getting work. Until one day a company in Canada called to offer me a work-experience internship. I didn’t hesitate to leave, because it was very difficult here to keep learning and work in this sector,” he recalls.
This was five years ago. After four years in Canada, Yonay decided to return to Gran Canaria last summer. Without a lot of job prospects, he spent several months trying his luck in the market, until he heard that a 3D animation course was being organized in his city. It was designed by the University Center for Technology and Digital Art in Madrid with the collaboration of the company Ánima Kitchent, a major Spanish-Mexican distributor of contents for children and young people, which is currently producing the Cleo y Cuquín series (a modern version of La familia Telerín). “I couldn’t imagine anything better. I’ve learned a great deal; few people have access to such specialized training. I hope to find work soon,” Yonay declares.
Yonay’s dream proved possible thanks to the specialized training programs being run by the Corporation for the Economic Development of Gran Canaria, in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme. The idea is to organize courses in sectors with high employment potential in the coming years, partnering with leading companies in these areas so as to foster an industrial fabric capable of absorbing the professionals trained on these courses. It is an infallible way of creating quality employment. There is no doubt that audiovisual production is a booming sector in this regard. And, within this field, 3D animation is on the rise in both the film and television or advertising worlds. The result is that, in the next few years, they are going to need a lot of professionals with very specific knowledge: three-dimensional animation, screenplay, facial animation, interpretation, synchronization of dialogs, poses and teamwork tools, as well as knowledge of the key aspects of the production systems at major companies such as Disney, Dreamworks, or Blue Sky.
The animation course began in April and consisted of 600 hours. On the open market, such tuition could cost up to 6,000 euros, but those selected only had to pay 500 (400 if they were currently unemployed). The company Ánima Kitchent intends to hire this fall those who demonstrate the best qualities for working on the projects the company is embarked on this season.
21st century gold
It is said that data is the gold of the 21st century. Or oil. But, unlike these two raw materials, its value does not lie in the data itself, but rather in the ability to process it to draw conclusions. That is why more and more companies need data experts who know how to handle Big Data processing and machine learning tools. These technologies have been integrated into the daily routine of a great many companies and are changing the way we do business.
For this reason, another sector that is undoubtedly booming is Big Data. That is to say, the processing of massive amounts of data to design commercial actions, predict behavior patterns or even system failures, and develop future strategies. Most of the information that moves our world today is digital, and it comes from a huge number and variety of sources. How do we store this data in a world of finite resources, how do we process it and how do we glean information from it? This is basically what Big Data is all about.
A whole series of industries and professions are being developed around Big Data, which are going to account for a large part of the jobs on offer over the next few years
There are already technology companies in which human intuition is prohibited for making decisions: if someone resolves to undertake some action, they have to produce the data to justify it. Their strategic and tactical decisions no longer rely on the views and intuitions of executives, but rather are based, above all else, on objective data.
The data provide these companies with valuable information about how their customers behave when they enter their stores, how they respond to products, what interests the offers spark in them, their satisfaction with the service… This helps them to understand much better what their customers are demanding, what they do and do not like, and even what they may like in the future.
Big Data can also be very useful in the insurance industry: for example, to be able to successfully calculate the premium users should pay, based on the data obtained on the way they drive. In pharmacies, to monitor in real time the effect of drugs on diseases and to assess their effectiveness. In banking, in order to learn of market risks in real time, based on the data obtained from transactions and quotations. And, in transport, to modify routes in real time on the basis of traffic or weather data.
For all these reasons, Big Data is the other major training commitment made this year by the Cabildo of Gran Canaria and Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme: a course to train highly qualified Big Data professionals, taught by experts from EOI, one of the leading business schools in Spain. Thanks to the agreement between the three institutions, 25 selected students are attending this course that also began in April and will end in November, with a duration of 200 class hours. Although the course is valued at 7,800 euros per participant, the final cost for each of them was 360 euros.
Experts estimate that, in Europe, there is already a Big Data market worth 50,000 million euros with more than six million workers. Around the world, this market will generate 900,000 jobs in six years and it is estimated that companies which make intelligent use of data increase their productivity by eight percent. The experts also point out that there is no need to be afraid of the digital transformation of companies: it is true that many jobs will be automated, but this has occurred constantly throughout history, without this leading to a decline in employment figures. Simply, with the passing of time, those posts that become outdated are replaced by others that require new skills: such as Big Data or 3D animation. That is why we must start getting ready
Mathematics. Analysts. Engineers. Graphic designers. These are some of the profiles that are being introduced into companies committed to data processing as a key management tool. “Not only private companies, but also in the public sector we are going to see Big Data professionals soon. We public officials will be able to make better decisions using real, objective data,” says Raúl García Brink, director of the Economic Development, Energy and R&D&I Area in the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, the department which, in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme, has launched Big Data and 3D animation training programs on the island.
The high qualifications necessary to fill these job positions calls for very specific training. “We wanted to offer a course that truly serves to prepare people for performing this work. Not just a module, but in-depth training,” Mr. García Brink affirms. However, training alone is not enough; a business fabric needs to be created to accommodate these new professionals, so that this talent does not end up emigrating. “That is why we are also working to convince companies to start introducing Big Data tools. We organize events and activities to make them better known, for example, in a key sector in Gran Canaria such as tourism,” adds the director.
In the case of 3D Animation, the work with companies has been ongoing for some time. “We have proposals from several international companies in the audiovisual sector to set up business on the island, given the tax incentives here. In fact, we already have one. And we want this ecosystem of companies we are helping to create to hire local workers. That’s why we are training professionals: so they can have an opportunity here,” concludes Mr. García Brink.