I’m off to Davos soon for the World Economic Forum. While I’m there I want to set out some more details on how we plan to boost Europe’s competitiveness – and fill tomorrow’s ICT jobs – with help from the private sector and others.
Many people today worry about the economic climate we’re in, and where the jobs are going to come from. But as the tide of unemployment rises, there’s still at least one island of hope – jobs for ICT practitioners, where demand is still strong, and growing.
That should be a great opportunity—but it risks becoming a liability. Because as it stands, the supply of people with the right skills is not growing in step. From 2006 to 2010, ICT graduates actually shrank by 10%; pretty soon, Europe could face one million unfilled ICT jobs. At a time of unemployment – wouldn’t that be absolutely crazy?
If we don’t act, we’re not just letting down our citizens; we’re denting our productivity and competitiveness. Businesses won’t have the human capital to prosper in the digital age, multinationals will go elsewhere, and European workers are missing out on a great hope.
But we can only solve this problem working together. The EU can’t do this alone; it needs input from the private sector, from education and training providers, all kinds of public authorities, and so on. From ICT and telecoms companies to companies across the economy; from public authorities to training and education providers. They can identify skills needs – but also offer placements, training, etc., to meet them. From top managers right down many different ICT specialists.
In Davos I’ll be outlining the key themes of our work. Training programmes that match skills needs; making mobility easier across the EU; certification; and raising awareness to attract more people to this exciting career path.
I’m working very intensely with other Commission colleagues on this; in March we will formally launch the programme. And I hope that private companies will be able to set out how they’re playing their part to fill the ICT skills gap – in Davos, in the run-up to our Conference, and beyond. After all – this affects their bottom line too.
For me, though, if we’re going to make the most out of the job opportunities of the digital revolution, it’s not just about learning particular skills: it’s about changing our whole way of thinking. A culture change: where we recognise and support being an entrepreneur as a valid career path. We need people willing to find their own way; innovators not afraid to take risks; those who don’t just apply for jobs but create their own. I’ve seen so much of this entrepreneurial spirit right here in Europe. And that is why we have an “action plan” to unleash Europe’s entrepreneurial potential.
At a time of crisis, ensuring the right skills and the right mentality can give Europe a better future, more competitive and with a better job market. That’s something I’m determined to support.