Europe lacks IT skills for growth, Commission says

Less than half of Europeans have sufficient IT skills for the vacancies available

Poor IT skills could stall Europe's economic recovery, according to figures released by the European Union on Monday.

The annual digital agenda scoreboard showed that only half of the European labor force has sufficient IT skills for the jobs that are available. According to the figures only 43 percent of the E.U. population has medium or high Internet skills and can, for example, "use the Internet to make a phone call or create a web page." Almost a quarter have no ICT skills at all. It is estimated that ICT vacancies will number 700,000 by 2015.

The European IT sector is currently worth 6 percent of E.U. GDP and accounts for more than 8 million jobs. Although there is growing demand for ever-faster Internet access and more mobile connectivity, online shopping is still a national activity, with only a 10th of online consumers shopping across borders. In addition, the majority of small and medium-size companies (SMEs) neither shop nor sell online and commercial research investment has stalled.

"This attachment to 20th century policy mindsets and business models is hurting Europe's economy. It's a terrible shame. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by under-investing. Europe will be flattened by its global competitors if we continue to be complacent," said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a statement.

Despite this the European Commission saw some cause for optimism: mobile Internet take-up in the past year grew by 62 percent to 217 million mobile broadband subscriptions; 68 percent of Europeans are online regularly and 170 million use social networks; and for the first time a majority of economically disadvantaged Europeans have used the Internet.

The Commission has ambitious digital targets. It wants every European citizen to have access to 30M bps (bits per second) broadband by 2020 with half of all subscribers connected to 100M bps services. "The telecoms sector has a key role to play in the race towards a digital E.U. society, where growth and jobs can be delivered by better and faster online activities," said Monday's statement. But the Commission added that more coordinated implementation of the telecom rules would be required to support the roll-out of high speed Internet.

There are currently major variations in the price of broadband products among E.U. countries, member states have vastly differing rules on net neutrality and, according to the Commission, telecom companies continue to charge exorbitant prices for mobile roaming.

The European Telecommunications Network Operators association, ETNO, took the announcement as a opportunity to once again call for access prices to copper networks to be maintained. "The role of copper networks to achieve the Digital Agenda goals should not be underestimated," it said.

New regulation for the harmonization of eSignatures and other trust services, an eCommerce action plan to facilitate cross-border access to online products and E.U. strategies for cloud computing and Internet security will all be thrashed out by the European legislators next year.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?