The European Mobile and Mobility Industries Alliance (EMMIA), which brings together regional and national policymakers and practitioners at European level, is helping European tourists make the most of their excursions. By taking advantage of cutting-edge mobile technologies, the EMMIA is making remote destinations accessible, bolstering local economies and creating unforgettable trips. Full story
Go digITal! Promoting e-Skills in Europe
The success of the European economy is linked to information and communication technologies (ICT) which means that an ever-increasing number of e-skilled workers are required. If the EU is to be more competitive, then it must do everything in its power to ensure that highly skilled ICT jobs are filled. With this in mind, the first European e-Skills Week took place from 1 to 5 March 2010, with a large number of activities taking place across Europe. The initiative culminated on Friday 5 March in Brussels with the 'Go digITal' closing event, which looked back at the week's successes and forward to what more needs to be done.
Over 200 events took place in 35 countries as part of European e-Skills Week. The closing event offered an opportunity to gather first impressions of how the campaign had gone and to look at ways to build on it in the future.
Attracting young people
It is predicted that, within five years, there will be a growing shortage of highly skilled ICT professionals in Europe due to a decrease in the number of applicants for ICT-related programmes, especially amongst women. The task is, therefore, to improve the image of ICT education and careers, encourage young people and increase the talent pool with a view to boosting productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.
Presentations made during the session on best practices demonstrated the possible ways to go about organising successful awareness raising activities. Laura Franchesi from the Italian education agency ANSAS provided an overview of actions taken in Italy's regions. Focusing on schools and coordinating with regional organisations, a proactive campaign was launched to encourage involvement in the event and to gain media coverage. Activities included student visits to technology companies; large-scale events bringing together the worlds of education, work and politics; workshops with ICT professionals; and debates between students, professors and business people. The campaigns in Denmark, Sweden and Norway focused on showing that ICT is fun, is taught on interesting courses, leads to good jobs, and is the future. A programme of exciting events was devised: it included an exhibition which offered the opportunity to play with technology; visits to schools; and the creation of an e-skills technology tent in the centre of Oslo.
The common thread between all of these activities is that they aimed to capture the imagination of young people and try to encourage them to think of a career in ICT. The experiences show that young people react well to hands-on activities and to hearing the personal stories of ICT professionals who are relatively close to their own ages. Getting the issue of e-skills onto the political and media agenda is not always easy, but large-scale and unusual actions are more likely to succeed. Event organisers also reiterated the need to start preparing well in advance and to be proactive in alerting the press - a press pack CD created by the team in Romania is a good example of how to go about this.
Ensuring sustainability and competitiveness
A key theme of the European e-Skills Week was the fact that we are living in a fast-changing world with an accelerating pace of ICT innovation, and our enterprises need to reflect that. It is estimated that only 10% jobs will not require e-skills five years from now and it is expected that 60% of five-year-old children today will work in jobs that do not currently exist. The need for well-trained ICT professionals can only continue to increase. It is, therefore, vital that solutions are put in place to get more young people to study the subject and its related fields. The results of a project led by INSEAD on European e-competence curricula development guidelines were presented during the European e-Skills Week. It aims to increase the attractiveness, the quality and the relevance of ICT curricula.
Speakers from the United Kingdom explained how ICT is being made a priority, especially with regards to encouraging 14-19 year olds to enter the field. A strategic plan is being implemented in the UK that includes the promotion of specific degrees to make students job-ready when they leave university and an initiative to 'upskill' the workforce. Nigel Payne from e-Skills UK - the body putting the plan into action - presented an e-skills manifesto and said that filling skills shortages and gaps need to be prioritised. The ICT industry in the UK is not in recession and companies using ICT also offer an opportunity to boost employment rates. Thinking ahead is key to ensuring that Europe is not left behind - and focusing on e-skills is a vital way to do this. e-Skills UK is a very good example of how to foster partnership between the public and the private sector to promote e-skills.
e-Skills prize for entrepreneurship: the winners
The e-Skills prize for entrepreneurship was won by two Romanians: Cezar Ursan and Adrian Brudaru. Their Green Cell Phone Charger impressed the jury with its combination of practicality and environmental applications. It aims to solve the problem of your mobile phone running out of battery when you're on the move. Not near a power socket? No need to fear. The charger uses energy that would otherwise be wasted - that produced as you walk - to recharge your battery, offering a carbon neutral way to charge your phone.
Cezar and Adrian say that the idea came to them over a pint of lager and that it struck them as a fun way to save money and help the environment. The device is attached to the user's shoe and, as they walk, converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, charging a 3.7 volt battery - the standard in most mobile phones. So far only two prototypes have been made, but the inventors are looking into the practicalities of mass producing their product and unlocking its commercial potential.
Competition rewards young entrepreneurs and innovators
A highlight of the closing event was the presentation of awards in six categories, demonstrating the wealth of possible practical applications for ICT skills. Finalists from the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom were invited to the ceremony and, later in the day, given the opportunity to talk about their ideas in a more intimate workshop setting. The awards recognised both young people and teachers, whose inventive use of ICT shows what can be done if you apply e-skills to a range of situations. Short-listed entries included a website and book for children visiting Northern Ireland, a website offering young animators the opportunity to show off their productions, and a video campaign highlighting the need for vigilance when putting personal information on the internet.
Further details of all prize winners can be found on the European e-Skills Week website.
ICT for Competitiveness and Innovation Unit,
Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry
The text only of the articles can be republished as long as the source of the article is quoted: Enterprise & Industry magazine (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/magazine/index_en.htm), © European Union, 2008 - 2012