E-skills cornerstone of knowledge society of the future

13 April 2010 Author: EIFonline

IT systems have become the central nervous system for almost any company today. With it, IT jobs have radically changed and are now much less technical and more business focused. This requires different skill sets and people who can grasp both the business and the IT side in a job at the same time ('dual thinkers').

The problem is that there is a shortage of such e-skills in organizations, and that job vacancies cannot be fulfilled because of a mismatch between education and business reality. The European Commission in 2007 made a broad proposal to strengthen Europe's digital literacy and inclusion, both for practitioners and for citizens.

In Europe there will be a shortage of 400.000 IT people at some stage in the near future because less people are graduating in this area. On top of this, in 5 years from now, 90% of all jobs will have an e-skills component. Similarly, citizens need to have the skills to use IT effectively. The good news is that overall, e-skill levels are increasing in all groups of society. The bad news however is that 36% of the population in Europe still has no ICT skills at all.

E-skills truly are the cornerstone of the knowledge society of tomorrow and Europe is taking action to increase e-skill levels across the board. Right now there are over 200 Europe-wide events promoting e-skill development and targeting young people. In addition, an INSEAD-led consortium has developed curriculum guidelines that  include  multi-stakeholder partnership promotion, an e-competence framework, an e-skills and care portal, analysis of the impact of global outsourcing, and fiscal incentives.

At the business level, companies like Microsoft have started programs to help train students to meet the demand for IT skills in SMEs in Europe. Through partnerships with for instance universities, the company enables smaller organisations to hire talent with the right IT skills, something which they could otherwise not afford.


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