The European Commission is undertaking several steps to lessen the region’s IT skills shortage – including spending one million Euros ($1,304,200) in a new initiative.
In addition, the EC said this week it has come up with a "grand coalition" to address the issue.
The steps come as EC digital commissioner, Neelie Kroes announced during the CeBIT (News - Alert) trade show in Germany this week that the region’s competitiveness was "under threat" if IT skills can’t be increased.
One indication of the IT skills shortage is that there will be 900,000 vacancies for IT jobs by 2015, the BBC said. The number of digital-related jobs in Europe increases some 100,000 a year. There about 26 million people unemployed in Europe now.
There are initiatives in the private sector that were highlighted by Kroes, too. Telefonica is investing in start-ups, Cisco (News - Alert) will train 100,000 people to install smart-meters, and Google is donating 15,000 free microcomputers to schools in the United Kingdom.
But the shortage of skilled employees is important. “Unemployment in Europe is unacceptably high and at the same time unfilled vacancies in ICT are growing,” Kroes said in a recent statement at the launch of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. “We also acknowledge that our competitiveness as a region is under threat if we're short of digitally skilled people. We cannot go on this way.”
She called for: increasing awareness of IT careers; include IT instruction for every student in school; do a better job of matching what IT training offers and what the labor market needs; encourage mobility of IT workers throughout Europe; and the presence of a eCompetences framework so employers can understand people's IT skills wherever in Europe they may reside.
In addition, José Manuel Durão Barroso, president of the EC, said in a statement that, “Too many Europeans, especially young people, are unemployed – and yet sometimes employers cannot find people with the right skills. … With highly-skilled young people increasingly affected by long-term unemployment, we risk a brain-drain at a time when it is important that the European Union remains an attractive place to live and to do business.”
The EC said it wants to “build a skills base for the 21st century … focusing on the STEM related skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” Barroso added. He cited Ireland as an example of efforts in the field. A Digital Skills Academy provides IT training for unemployed young people and then links them with small- and medium-sized businesses.
In addition, Academy Cube, developed by SAP (News - Alert) and the EC, will teach IT skills and match students with job vacancies, IT World reported. It represents an alliance between industrial companies and institutions in Europe.
Most jobs in Europe require some computer-related skills and by 2015, 90 percent of jobs will need at least basic computer skills, Barroso predicted.