Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

IST project aims to foster diversity and inclusion in the European IT sector

At a time when an ageing Europe is facing skills shortages, the professional employment of marginalised groups is not only a question of equality, but also of economic necessity.

THE RISESI project funded under the Information Society Technologies (IST) priority of the Sixt...
IST project aims to foster diversity and inclusion in the European IT sector
At a time when an ageing Europe is facing skills shortages, the professional employment of marginalised groups is not only a question of equality, but also of economic necessity.

THE RISESI project funded under the Information Society Technologies (IST) priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) therefore undertook to gain an understanding of the key factors promoting such employment in the ICT (information and communication technology) and ICT-related sectors.

RISESI (the Regional Impact of the Information Society on Employment and Integration) evaluated the social and economic changes produced by the EU's information-based economy with a view to understanding the national, regional and sectoral impacts.

The project partners, from Sweden, Italy and the UK, also studied the impacts upon particular groups, identified barriers to employment and developed policy responses designed to promote growth and social inclusion.

'Europe needs both a strong state and strong firms, that is, growth sustained by supporting social welfare and diversity policy,' said Jonathan Feldman of Sweden's National Institute for Working Life. 'Bureaucracies and markets should not ignore the special needs of potentially marginalised groups. At the same time, countries that promote social inclusion through government-financed training schemes will have to promote innovation.'

As Dr Feldman explained, Europe's high technology regions that build on qualified labour require a steady march of skilled workers, yet this march has been blocked in part by skills shortages.

'In some cases, native males have dominated the streams feeding into qualified labour markets. An ageing Europe requires that more women and immigrants enter the markets. Equality and efficiency are linked, which means obstacles to gender and ethnic diversity must be overcome,' explained Dr Feldman.

RISESI therefore identified potential areas where policies could be developed to help women and immigrants enter the labour market, such as changing outdated laws, strengthening support for trade unions and labour cooperatives, and starting special programmes to promote mentoring and cultural exposure to science and engineering at different stages in student and workers' lives. For example, university students mentored by retired professionals could in turn mentor secondary school pupils.

Furthermore, laws should be reformed to facilitate monitoring to determine whether employers screen out qualified immigrants, while renewed apprenticeship programmes could target key groups.

In terms of encouraging women into ICT jobs, paid parental leave and flexible work hours should be encouraged.

At present, state the project partners, government or corporate policies fail to make training efforts financially worthwhile. Tax incentives for training and subsidies for part of the family support system have a role to play. Entrepreneurship by women and ethnic minorities is currently hampered by a lack of capital to support new ventures.

Finally, RISESI points to the fact that a more diversified and human architecture in urban neighbourhoods could contribute to social integration and social capital such that immigrant parents or their children gain ties to established professionals with a background in science and engineering.

Although the project finished in April 2005, the partners are now finalising a series of recommendations expected to point to possible developments.

Source: The RISESI project and IST Results

Related information

Programmes

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top