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E-skills the key to unlocking Europe's potential for growth and job creation

Posted by Nick Prag at 19 March 2015, 17:30 CET |
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Last week governments, industry, NGOs and educational bodies from 22 European countries joined forces with the European Commission to push for further action to stimulate the creation of the jobs needed to build a digital single market in Europe.

The aim of the 'eSkills for Jobs' campaign is to raise awareness of the need to improve people's command of ICT skills for work.

computer internet imageThe signing at a conference organised by the Latvian presidency with the Commission of the 'Riga Declaration on e-skills' highlighted 10 key principles aimed at guiding efforts to unlock the potential of e-Skills in order to fuel growth and job creation. These were:

  • more and better investment in digital technologies and e-skills;
  • address youth unemployment in Europe through digital skills;
  • prioritise "e-Skills for the 21st Century" policy and scale-up its implementation;
  • endorse the continuation of the work of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs and the implementation of National Coalitions, and public funding investment;
  • promotion of -leadership in management positions at the European businesses;
  • foster digital transformation and entrepreneurship;
  • ensure life-long education and training of e-skills;
  • European leadership of global standards;
  • fostering professionalism in information and communication technology (ICT) and maturing the ICT profession in Europe;
  • commitment to cooperate, pool expertise and efforts.

These are important action areas for the development of Europe's digital economy, they are designed to help smaller businesses in particular, and can provide business opportunities for both manufacturing and service sectors, and promote economic competitiveness.

They are prompted by a critical shortfall in e-skills in Europe's workforce. There is growing demand for ICT-skilled professionals, but despite high levels of unemployment in Europe this is not being met.

In fact, it is estimated that Europe could experience a shortage of up to 900,000 ICT professionals by 2015. Women are also seen to be significantly under-represented in ICT related jobs, with less than 30% of the ICT workforce being female.

It is a good thing that by 2020, research organisations are forecasting 660,000 ICT jobs will be added to the existing pool of ICT workers in Europe.

However, Tobias Hüsing, a Senior Research Consultant at Empirica, believes it can be more: "On top of that, a potential 820,000 jobs could be filled by 2020, if talent would become available to an extent beyond our extrapolation of current trends."

The key point, the conference heard, is to move the focus on from jobs in the tech companies to a much wider array of jobs where e-Skills will be needed. "Within a decade plumbers, farmers, small shop owners, even bakers and shoemakers will be turning to digital technologies such as data analytic in their day-to-day lives to improve their efficiency," said John Higgins, Director General of DIGITAL EUROPE.

E-Skills form an important and fundamental launchpad for employment efforts in Europe. They embody the kind of Europe that policy-makers are aiming for, where the mass of people are skilled and are not shut out from the opportunities that are being created.

Hopefully, the Riga Declaration - which EUbusiness supports and has signed - will help in the key task - as Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Latvian Minister of the Economy put it - to equip society with the appropriate 21st Century competencies and skills to unlock Europe's potential for growth and job creation.

Riga Declaration on e_Skills

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.