Reading through this article at VFX Soldier today:
"New horizontal expansion includes government-funded Bachelors and Masters programs wherein students pay Digital Domain to work for Digital Domain. (...)
So, if 30% of our labor can be free, actually paying tuition, but by your Junior and Senior year at the college, you’re working on real firms (films), as part of the professional workflow, and you graduate with a resume that has five major films, your name in the credits, and more than just an intership level of experience, then that’s the perfect kind of trade off."
While some may think this makes sense, I strongly beg to differ.
Understand this: I do not know of any other industry whose educational foundation is based on students paying to work "for free" for a related profit-making business.
The implications of that ripple through the ranks of candidates and employees alike. Imagine, from a strictly business point of view, the validated access to labor that (albeit less skilled) is absolutely FREE.
In essence, you are creating a grey moral zone where "labor that is profited from does not necessarily need to be compensated".
While, the "benefits" offered to entry-level candidates dying for a break into the industry may be appealing to them, think of what that means to the skilled, experienced workforce that's come before!
For the students, it may "make sense", but they cannot see further ahead where that decision will take the very industry they want to live from.
I find the argument that this approach is necessary to "protect" the jobs that would be lost to cheap labor markets like China and India quite disturbing. Yes, by "market rules", those jobs will go anyway because of the economical inequalities that undermine the illusion of a truly "globalized world".
It supports the sad philosophy of "averaging for the lowest common denominator", which is (IMHO) the worst thing that can happen for any industry.
Morally dubious? Well, it depends on your point of view right?
As with a lot of other things in this industry that has become so much of a "morally grey zone"...
For DD, it's a lucrative scheme of justifying cheap (free) labor, with the added bonus that once the worker rises to a skill rank higher that "junior", "apprentice" or "student"; they can be automatically dismissed before DD needs to start paying them as employees. And so, the cycle goes on. Blessed by "Wall Street morals".
It just strikes me as another cause for concern. This industry has transformed itself in its VERY short life span. Remember people: most of our jobs DID NOT EXIST back in the late 80's, early 90's!
Seeing these tendencies of averaging talent, skill, experience and professionalism (KEY ingredients for this industry) by the lowest common denominator possible, so the top of the food chain can pocket a few extra greedy dollars, makes me concerned about the place VFX artists will find themselves in another 20 years - considering how fast things changed in the last 20.
Just my two very sad cents.