Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission
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Exploiting the employment potential of ICTs

CC photo credit: DigitalNative

ICT jobs keep growing and growing – just as they did throughout the crisis, that is one of the key points the  European Commission is making today. In response to the ongoing and tragic levels of unemployment in Europe, we're showcasing where we see the European labour market/s headed and what governments, individuals, and social partners like trade unions, can do to prepare for that future. This isn't a big funding package, it's not a set of laws, but it's a great way to getter a better idea of where the next opportunities are for European employees, entrepreneurs and employers. You won't be shocked to learn that Information and Communication Technology has a central positive role in this story. How could it be otherwise? One in five workers now require advanced ICT skills and 90% of workers require basic ICT skills.  In fact, we now predict that while jobs held by highly-qualified people with ICT skills will rise by 16 million by 2020, low-skilled jobs will fall by 12 million. It's not hard to see the connection between ICT and success. ICT is pervasive throughout all sectors of the economy, and is itself now one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the European economy. ICT skills lower one's risk of unemployment. Specifically in the ICT sector (the four to five million ICT specialists and closely associated jobs) there is a massive jobs surplus emerging. There will be up to 700,000 vacancies by 2015 unless more is done to direct more young people into computing degrees, retrain mid-career unemployed people, and attract more women into the sector. That means ICT is going to continue to be a rich source of millions of jobs, mostly requiring graduate degrees. This isn't just about employment either. ICTs make is much easier to register and start a business, in particular the rise of cloud computing services do away with the need for expensive investments in ICT hardware. So, what we've learnt today, or at least been reminded of, is that ICT jobs keep growing and growing – just as they did throughout the crisis. Alongside 'green jobs' this makes ICT the brightest spot in the European labour market.  One final thing: don’t forget that even the simple of use of ICT in job-hunting and recruitment is a critical force for effectively tackling unemployment. It reduces costs and massively increases options for both employers and employees when used effectively. So please take these messages 'on board.'  I don't just mean governments - but also young people and those who find themselves unemployed. Use the key of ICT to unlock a better future.