EU warns of growing tech skills crisis

The Boardroom

by Steve Evans| 23 March 2012

Kids today get smartphones and video games, but not the business side of things, Brussels warns

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A shortfall in IT skills in Europe's youth is threatening to dent the region's ability to compete, according to Brussels policymakers.

Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, said that while most young people are more than familiar with consumer technology such as smartphones, tablets and video games, few of their skills are transferable to the workplace.

Tajani said this could negatively impact Europe's ability to compete on the world stage, particularly in the face of challenges from emerging markets such as Brazil, China and India. He also said the issue could make Europe's youth unemployment problem even worse.

Research from the European Commission shows this shortfall in school leavers and graduates with the right IT and digital skills could hit 700,000 by 2015. The research also suggests that Europe's leading digital economies - Britain, France and Germany - would be most affected.

"Young people need to appreciate the professional aspects of the new digital world," Tajani said. "This is more important than ever in the current economic context. And it is crucial to increase creativity which will favour entrepreneurship and new start-ups."

The research was carried out to mark e-Skills Week 2012, which aims to get more young people trained up in the digital skills they will need to forge a successful career in the years to come.

The European Commission's research reveals that by 2015, 90% of jobs will need e-skills while jobs for highly-qualified people are expected to rise by 16 million by 2020. At the same time jobs for low-skilled workers will drop by 12 million, the report said.

"I am worried, as supply has become a bottleneck for growth in the tech sector, creating a leaky pipeline that threatens to hamper European innovation and global competitiveness," concluded Tajani.

The looming tech skills shortage is not a new phenomenon. Recently research from Compuware revealed that a perfect storm is brewing in the mainframe skills market. A combination of a retiring workforce, increased mainframe demands and a lack of succession planning from businesses means many mainframe teams are struggling to keep up with business demands, the research said.

CBR took an in-depth look at the skills crisis recently. You can read the feature in full here.

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