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ICT industry requires more skills to take off [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

The launch of Horizon 2020 and the EUR 15 million it brings to the ICT research table are definitely a breath of fresh air for the sector. However, one question remains: do EU workers have the skills required to push ICT to the next level in Europe?

So far, the answer is no. ...
ICT industry requires more skills to take off
The launch of Horizon 2020 and the EUR 15 million it brings to the ICT research table are definitely a breath of fresh air for the sector. However, one question remains: do EU workers have the skills required to push ICT to the next level in Europe?

So far, the answer is no. According to the European Commission, Europe could soon face a shortage of up to 900 000 ICT workers if nothing is done. The EU's very competiveness is threatened. Major companies such as Microsoft already raised the alarm, while the OECD published, in October 2013, a study assessing the ICT skills of about 5 000 Europeans. The latter concluded that a fifth of the working age population has worrying low literacy and numeracy skills. Moreover, a quarter of adults lack the digital skills needed to effectively use information and communication technologies.

The decisions to be made this year will be key to defining whether or not this problem can be tackled quickly and efficiently. The sector's growth is set to accelerate tremendously, and the European Commission set for itself the very ambitious objective to close the digital skills gap by 2020 in order to face this trend.

Launched in March 2013, the 'Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs' aims to do just that. Over the next few years, the Commission expects to make ICT careers more attractive, offer training packages co-designed with the industry, offer more aligned degrees and curricula, improve cross-country skill recognition, reduce labour market mismatches and stimulate digital entrepreneurship. National coalitions are being developed in various member states and big companies such as Google, Microsoft, Telefonica and Sisco already support this initiative.

Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 is another major attempt at closing, among others, the ICT skills gap by allowing students to experience other teaching programmes across Europe. But is this enough? In last August, Microsoft highlighted the domestic ICT skills shortage it faced as it continues to develop its activities in Ireland. The company has to bring staff from abroad, and the current ICT certification system, which remains highly un-transparent, does not help. Thousands of different certificates currently exist, and common standards of competence need to be established.

Identifying the exact causes and bridging this ICT gap will not be an easy task. As highlighted by Commissioner Neelie Kroes, 'the Commission will do its bit but we can't do it alone; companies, social partners and education players - including at national and regional level - have to stand with us.'

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Record Number: 36394 / Last updated on: 2014-01-13
Category: Project
Provider: EC