By 2015, 90% of jobs will need e-skills. The number of ICT practitioners in Europe was 4.7 million in 2007 and is forecast to reach 5.26 million in 2015. In more general terms, jobs for highly-qualified people are expected to rise by 16 million between now and 2020, while those held by low-skilled workers will decline by around 12 million. This huge amount of up-skilling can only be achieved with e-skills. It is a precondition to become employable, learn and find a job online.
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "Young people need to appreciate the professional aspects of the new digital world. I am worried, as supply has become a bottleneck for growth in the tech sector, creating a leaky pipeline that threatens to hamper European innovation and global competitiveness. This is more important than ever in the current economic context. And it is crucial to increase creativity which will favour entrepreneurship and new start-ups."
Numerous activities and events will take place during the e-Skills Week in Europe. To learn about them and get the latest information, please look at the website: http://eskills-week.ec.europa.eu
Defiant in stormy times: ICT is a growth sector
The capability of the European industry to compete and innovate is increasingly dependent on the innovative and efficient use of information and communication technologies (ICT). This phenomenon will even grow faster in the future. The ICT sector is responsible for 5% of European GDP, with an annual market value of € 660 billion and it contributes far more to productivity growth through ICT investments in all sectors:
- In spite of the economic crisis, the ICT workforce has continued to grow across Europe at a rate of 3%.
- Within five years, 90% of all jobs will require tech skills across all sectors (IDC).
- As the EU moves to a knowledge-based society, jobs requiring a high-level of education will rise from 25 to 31%.
- Europe is suffering from a growing professional ICT shortage with a shortfall of as many as 700,000 professionals by 2015.
Over the last ten years business leaders stressed that the EU was not producing enough ICT practitioners. e-skills bring a premium to highly-skilled workers in a fast growing area while those with low or inadequate qualifications and skills are even more vulnerable. As industry is increasingly sourcing talents wherever they are available on a world-wide basis, e-skills are crucial for the competitiveness and the attractiveness of Europe as a region.
Additionally, Europe faces growing unemployment with 23 million people out of work, and youth unemployment at 21%. The OECD has produced research indicating that higher education has a quantitative impact on employability and earnings potential. Statistics released in 2011 show that across the OECD countries, 83.6% of people between 25 and 64 with tertiary education were in employment, compared to 56% of those without an upper secondary education. Similarly, the earnings gap between people with higher education and those without has been estimated at 57%.
In this context, the crisis revealed deep structural weaknesses in our labour markets. The unemployment rate hit a new high at 10.1 % in the EU in January 2012. Youth unemployment reached a new historic high of 22.4 %. It is higher than 20 % in about two-thirds of countries and close to 50 % in Spain and Greece, while it is less than 10 % in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. This growing demand contrasts with a decreasing number of ICT graduates since 2005.
To remedy this situation, the Commission adopted a Communication in 2007 on "e-Skills for the 21st Century" which include a long term e-skills strategy. Good progress has been made: a European e-competence framework is available, Member States are increasingly designing e-skills initiatives and many partnerships have been initiated by the ICT industry. But this is not enough: we need to accelerate and intensify our efforts.
The European e-Skills Week opening event took place in Brussels on 19 March in Brussels. The closing event will take place on 30 March in Copenhagen.