EU faces IT staff shortfall of 825,000, redoubles training

Four more countries have launched public-private partnerships to fund IT training across the EU

In front of the European Commission's Charlemagne building in Brussels on June 17, 2015

In front of the European Commission's Charlemagne building in Brussels on June 17, 2015

The European Union faces a huge shortfall of qualified IT staff in Europe by 2020, prompting EU countries to redouble efforts to offer technology training.

There are not enough IT specialists graduating in Europe to fill all jobs, creating a digital skills gap that could lead to 825,000 vacancies in the sector five years from now, according to figures released by the European Commission on Thursday.

The news comes as four more countries join a program begun in 2013 to increase opportunities for workers to learn IT skills across the EU.

Almost 24 million of the EU's 500 million inhabitants are looking for work, according to Commission figures, yet businesses are having difficulty finding skilled IT workers.

The largest IT skills gap is in Germany today, but it will get bigger throughout the EU if nothing is done, especially in the U.K. and Italy where there are not enough IT specialists graduating to keep up with demand, the Commission's figures show.

The Commission's doom-mongering is having some effect: Last year, it predicted that the shortfall in qualified IT staff could reach 900,000 in 2020, but efforts to provide more training are closing that gap.

The gap had formed because the demand for IT professionals grows about 3 percent each year, but the number of IT graduates declined by 13 percent between 2006 and 2013, after having almost doubled in the preceding six years, according to Commission figures. There's also a gender gap, as there are twice as many male as female graduates in science technology and mathematics, the figures showed.

All students should be trained in digital skills, not just the ones that choose a career in IT, the Commission said, adding that the same goes for the whole work force.

"There is a clear need for promoting digital skills at all levels, for re-skilling, and for lifelong learning across Europe and its regions," European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger said at the EU Digital Assembly in Riga on Thursday.

About a third of the workforce has no or low digital skills, while 15 percent have never used the Internet.

To remedy that, the Commission set up the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs in 2013 to support IT training projects involving government and industry. Projects are already up and running in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Romania and on Wednesday Belgium, the Netherlands, Cyprus and the U.K. joined the coalition. The programs are focused on stimulating IT education and providing training for the unemployed.

In the U.K., the ambition is to deliver the skills for a million new digital jobs, according to the Commission. As part of that, British public broadcaster the BBC will make its BBC academy accessible from outside the U.K., with the goal of encouraging 2.5 million more visitors to access its educational videos and articles.

Companies offering training courses under the program include Google, CA Technologies and EMC.

Oettinger said more private investment in IT training is needed if the initiatives are to reach the necessary scale, however.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CA Technologiesbusiness issuespersonnelBBCGoogleeuropean commissiongovernmentemc

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.

Loek Essers and Peter Sayer

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?