The XR community’s CyberXR Coalition and the XR Bootcamp have teamed up to open invitations to sponsors and partners to back a Beyond Inclusion scholarship programme to promote a new workforce of Metaverse Engineers, it was recently announced.
The former, an Extended Reality Safety Initiative (XRSI)-backed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) organisation, is working with the XR Bootcamp to provide financing for select XR content creators to prepare them for working in the industry and will include mixed levels of professional experience.
Representation matters. To increase diversity in the field of XR and broaden the candidate pool, @Meta is proud to support the @CyberXR Beyond Inclusion Scholarship Program. Applications are open now through July 15 👇 https://t.co/v2fMXyxoVT
— Rob Sherman (@rmsherman) July 8, 2022
Candidates applying for the scholarship can find more information and apply at its website, and the window for applying closes on 15 July. Meta Platforms will also join the Coalition as its first top sponsor.
The news comes as the sector has recorded skyrocketing demand for XR professionals of more than 1400 percent, namely in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), leading to a drive for new talent. The Coalition aims to close the gap by opening opportunities to underprivileged people seeking careers.
According to figures, the coding boot-camping sector consists of only 6 percent of African-Americans and only 0.6 percent of technical XR roles from 2018 to date, despite investment in DE&I initiatives.
The groups have cited automation, income gaps, and others as challenges to marginalised communities, and the partnership’s scholarship hopes to boost representations for such demographics with corporate sponsorship to prepare the next generation of talent.
Noble Ackerson, President of the CyberXR Coalition, said in a statement he was proud to lead the initiative, adding,
“All my life, I’ve been dealing with visible and invisible inequalities. Now that we are creating a new technological domain, I can’t stress enough the need for diverse voices and inclusive solutions to ensure that we get the outcomes that speak to our values. We can do better together”
Kavya Pearlman, XRSI Chief Executive and Founder, added the industry needed to remove financial barriers to promote “fair and equal work opportunities.”
She explained further,
“We need corporations to fulfill their social responsibility and collectively go beyond just inclusion by committing to increase the representation of underrepresented identity groups. This benefits not just the marginalized community but the entire technology ecosystem”
Rahel Demant, Co-Founder of XR Bootcamp, added that her organisation had become familiar with “what it takes to succeed in the XR industry” due to its extensive experience with students.
Concluding, she said,
“Over the years, we have built a validated upskilling pathway with award-winning XR studios, being able to offer jobs to successful XR Bootcamp graduates. With the Beyond Inclusion program, we’re now able to match hiring companies with XR Bootcamp graduates to actively increase diversity and inclusion in their teams”
The XR Bootcamp has been lauded for its efforts to back global XR movement with partners such as Hewlett-Packard (HP), Samsung, Snap, Accenture, Autodesk, USC and Carnegie Mellon University, and many others.
XR Initiatives Build Roadmap for DE&I Talent
The news comes after similar organisations launched initiatives to back greater representation of rising talent in the XR community, inducing efforts from UPWorlds and the XR Bootcamp, who launched a join Accelerator and Academy to teach, create, and promote VR developers across the workforce.
Meta Platforms has also recently opened several creative funding programmes to boost talent for Horizon Worlds developers in a bid to expand its pool of creative talent and the platform’s capabilities.
Canada’s OYA Black Arts Coalition (OBAC) also worked jointly with the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab and immersive studio Dark Slope to promote its government-backed Scale Up Immersive accelerator programme, which selected 11 Black-owned content creation enterprises for the programme.
Saudi Arabia’s government has also opened its Creative Solutions initiative to back rising XR talent with support from some of Britain’s leading immersive experts and companies.
The nation’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture showcased a cohort of five rising XR content creators for an event at London’s iconic County Hall in central London in March, leading to further training and distribution of immersive experiences in art, education, health, culture, and others.