Commission issues action call in Davos – with IT sector and telecoms companies – to close digital skills and jobs gap in Europe

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Europe faces up to 700.000 unfilled ICT jobs and declining competitiveness. The number of digital jobs is growing – by 3% each year during the crisis – but the number of new ICT graduates and other skilled ICT workers is shrinking. Our youth need actions not words, and companies operating in Europe need the right people or they will move operations elsewhere.

Today, the Commission is issuing a call to action to companies, governments, educators, social partners, employment service providers and civil society to join us in a massive effort to “turn the tide”. Young Europeans should have the tools to enter digital careers or to create jobs as entrepreneurs.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “The digital skills gap is growing, like our unemployment queues. We need joint action between governments and companies to bridge that gap. The ICT sector is the new backbone of Europe’s economy, and together we can prevent a lost generation and an uncompetitive Europe. So I am expecting concrete pledges by companies, everyone I meet will be getting the same request. The Commission will do its bit but we can’t do it alone – companies, social partners and education players – including at national and regional level – have to stand with us.”

The Commission will collect pledges on new jobs, internships, training places, start-up funding, free online university courses and more. Companies such as Nokia, Telefónica, SAP, Cisco, HP, Alcatel-Lucent, Randstad, ENI, Telenor Group, ARM, as well as the CIO community, CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) and Digital Europe are in the first wave of those committing to act. On 4-5 March the Commission will include pledges received from partners and build them into the launch of a Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs at a major pledging conference. The conference is open to all who want to actively support this common cause.

We seek active collaboration in areas like industry-led training, assisting labour mobility, certifying skills, improving school and university curricula, raising awareness, and creating an entrepreneur friendly environment for start-ups.

One concrete area for action could be training vouchers. Successful German and Spanish voucher based training models provided jobs for 60-70% of the 20,000 participants and we should seek to replicate and scale up this idea on a European scale. Here to read more.

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