AIM Qualifications: entry level awards to level 6 diplomas

Games, Animation and VFX Skills 


The AIM Qualification Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills has been developed as a result of a unique partnership between employers and awarding organisation with AIM providing the Ofqual approved qualification and NextGen Skills Academy providing an expert, paid service to support providers with its delivery.

NextGen Skills Academy brings industry and education together through working with AIM Qualifications to deliver the AIM Qualifications Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills qualification at industry selected colleges across England.

Bringing industry into the classroom is at the heart of the Level 3 Extended Diploma, and it is in the vanguard of industry focused vocational qualifications. It has been developed in partnership with some of the biggest companies in the creative industries, with continued industry collaboration to shape the curriculum and focus on teaching the up-to-date technical and soft skills leaners need to succeed. This industry engagement continues throughout the course with industry masterclasses, live industry briefs, studio visits, work experience opportunities and more.

History of the qualification

The Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills qualifications was developed in 2015 in response to the report: ‘Next Gen. Transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries’* The report highlighted critical skills shortages in these industries, and found that the education system (including universities and FE colleges) at the time was not providing learners with the skills that the UK video games, animation and visual effects industries needed.

The report was created with industry collaboration from the UK’s leading visual effects (VFX), animation and games employers including Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Microsoft, Ubisoft, The Imaginarium, Blue Zoo Animation, Framestore, DNEG, Centroid and MPC.

This group of employers** joined forces to create ‘NextGen Skills Academy’, a consortium of employers, to lead on the creation of new qualifications at Level 3 and a range of industry relevant apprenticeship standards.

Their aspiration was to raise the standard of learning in these sectors of the creative industries, to develop the next generation of talented animators, games designers and visual effects artists, and to ensure that new entrants to the industry (in all roles) have the necessary up-to-date skills and understanding to ensure business success.

To help achieve this, AIM Qualifications was selected by the NextGen Employer Steering Group as the awarding organisation with whom they felt most comfortable to work with to support the design and onward management of the key Level 3 qualification, and development of higher apprenticeship standards.


This unique Level 3 qualification is now seen as industry-leading and is the qualification of choice for many colleges and training providers across the UK. Fourteen FE colleges have since partnered with NextGen with more joining each year.

Three higher apprenticeship standards have been developed for Junior 2D Artist and Assistant Technical Director (Visual Effects), and Digital Community Manager (Games).

* Prepared for Government by Ian Livingstone OBE, and Alex Hope.
** Funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills' (UKCES) Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot

More information

For more information about the Level 3 qualification in Games, Animation and VFX Skills, or to download a copy of our Qualification specification, please see our Qualifications page  

Class of 2020

Emma's work“I am a passionate artist and over the last 2 years my love for art has only grown. The combination of maths, technology and creativity on the course has allowed my skills to flourish. I chose this collection of work to show because it really encompasses everything I’ve gotten from this course – the ability to work as part of a bigger project, improved technical skill of drawing, and preparation for working in a professional environment, as well as helping me grow as a person as well, building my confidence to levels I never anticipated.”
Emma cliff
Check out Emma’s Portfolio
Meet the NextGen Class of 2020

NextGen students present to NASA scientist for remote work experience project

NextGen Games, Animation and VFX students at seven colleges looked to the stars as they presented their work to a panel of space professionals, including Brad "Buddy" Gersey, Lead Research Scientist at the NASA funded Center for Radiation Engineering and Science for Space Exploration (CRESSE)!

This out of this world opportunity came at the end of a week of remote work experience organised by NextGen and educational charity 4wardFutures. Taking the dream of space colonisation as inspiration, students worked in college as micro-creative studios to research and design their own vision of what it means to create a sustainable society on Mars, before delivering either:

  • apresentation using VFX, animation and 3D modelling to promote the colonisation of Mars to its early settlers
  • a simulation game to help prepare early colonists to build a sustainable Mars settlement

The student groups were coached throughout the week by a roster of Games, Animation, VFX, and Space industry professionals from leading employers such as Union VFX, Creative Assembly and Space Specialists.  Bringing real industry engagement directly to students, they joined online calls to offer feedback, advice, and inspiration as they refined their work before presenting it to a panel of space experts. 
For more information see the NextGen Skills Academy website