When you hear the brand ‘Williams’, your mind will instantly think of Formula One, rubber tyres screeching on concrete, engines roaring and mechanics rushing, tools in tow. But there’s a new sound emerging from the famous racing company to accompany the talking team and hubbub of working together – the sound of buttons mashing.
Steven English, Head of Esports at Williams Racing, recently sat down to speak to Pearson BTEC and the British Esports Association about the new project the company are dedicating resources to.
“We were looking for ways to improve our engagement with a younger audience and that next generation of fans,” explains Steven. “Everyone's got the same problem. Kids don't engage the same way they did in when our generations were growing up. So how do you reach them? How do you grow that passion that they have for you and your brand and your team? Whether you're in football, motor racing, or even something outside of sport?
“Esports began as a project. And there were several other projects that died at the same time. They all shared the same goals, but esports very quickly dwarfed all of the others and got out of control really quickly and has gone on to become kind of a business of its own.”
"esports very quickly dwarfed all the others"
The sheer size and scale of the booming esports industry has been talked about for years, but it’s finally being recognized outside of the gaming sector. Global esports revenues will grow to $1,084 million this year, a year-on-year growth of 14.5%, up from $947.1 million in 2020, says Newzoo.
“We've gone from no esports employees just over three years ago, to five permanent people now who are dedicated 100% to esports. We’re expecting that number to double year on year for the short future.”
“Esports is so open, the barriers to entry are just so much lower than what they are in real-world sport,” Steven says.
“We're now going to need a lot more people to help us deliver everything we’ve just realized we can do.”
Recruiting new people with experience in esports is becoming increasingly important to Steven and his team. “We've got some plans for expansion. Our plans in Rocket League will come out very soon and, in the future, we’ll be looking at titles beyond the sector that that we began in. And that's only going to bring with it more growth, more areas of specialization and more careers in the future.”
"that's only going to bring with it more growth"
“We are a highly demanding employer. Not everyone makes it in such competitive fields and so people who hold the right values will be successful in that environment.
“Beyond that, it's the specialist skills. Every individual job has specialist skills that are needed as well as those wider, more rounded skills that you can pick up along the way from other places and a big part of it for us is sector knowledge. It's a huge advantage to have people that have knowledge and expertise in the sector that we're working in.
“Esports qualifications were not a thing when I was in education. So, whatever I know I've had to learn on the way either as part of my job or just in my free time., The more that people can come with that knowledge, the easier they're going to find it to develop their careers.”
The new BTEC qualifications in esports are skills-focused and are a major step forward in supporting the creation of long-term careers in the growing esports industry both in the UK and internationally, which will suit employers like Williams Racing and others.
“We have events, marketing, business, events, and sponsorship. All of these were jobs that exist already out there in the world and they even existed at Williams in a Formula One context. They're new in esports context. And do we want to go and get someone who trained for event management in Formula One and teach them about esports? Or can we get someone who's always had a passion for esports and is trained in event management and esports?”
"The BTECs in esports can help you to do that more than more generic qualifications, that to me is a no-brainer"
Steven ended the session by talking about the passion young people have for esports and the entertainment industry surrounding it. If you can help young people turn a passion into a profession, you’ll be creating careers of vocation. “You must have thousands of kids around the country who would love to spend the rest of their life getting paid to do what they love. The BTECs in esports can help you to do that more than more generic qualifications, that to me is a no-brainer.”
Steven English is the Head of Esports at Williams Racing. He’s worked in Formula One for more than a decade and has been working on the Williams Esports project for three years.
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