Experts Warn of ICT Labour Shortage and Loss of Competitive Edge in Europe by 2015

(PresseBox) (Hannover, ) Europe suffers from a chronic shortage of digital skills across all sectors. A study released by empirica and IDC EMEA Government Insights revealed that EU labour market may face an excess demand of 384,000 ICT practitioners by 2015.

The ICT sector currently represents 3% of European employment, 5% of European GDP, and 26% of research and development expenditure. It is therefore not surprising to understand the increased application of ICT solutions to many societal challenges such as: ehealth, egovernment and elearning. Based on this trend, over the next five years it is estimated Europe will require an estimated 5 million ICT practitioners.

DIGITALEUROPE - the voice of Europe's digital industry in Brussels - together with its partner BITKOM, the German ICT industry association, and in cooperation with the social science research and consultancy empirica today presented facts and figures at a press conference held at CeBIT.

"The burning issue for Europe is to build an adequately eskilled workforce to drive its economy forward and maintain its leadership position in the 21st Century," stated Bridget Cosgrave Director-General DIGITALEUROPE. Successful economic recovery in Europe can be led through eskills and digital industry - a sector which has the capacity to create 400.000 jobs in the next five years.

By 2015, 90% of all jobs, across all sectors, will require the use of ICT. "Eskills play a crucial role for those individuals seeking employment, as well as for those already in professions," said Cosgrave.

"It is of paramount importance to grow our eskills and digital literacy if Europe wants to move out of economic recession and reduce its unemployment, particularly for young people," confirmed Werner B Korte, Director and eskills research project leader at empirica.

"An adequately eskilled workforce is necessary to drive Europe's economy forward," explained Korte. "ICT practitioner jobs are highly resistant to the crisis, with unemployment 40-50% lower than general rates. Data shows the eskills gap will amount to between 1.7% and 13% of unfilled vacancies by 2015 in Europe."

"Germany is affected strongly by the eskills gap", stated Bernhard Rohleder, Director General of BITKOM. "Even at the height of the economic crisis, there are 20.000 vacancies for ICT professionals in Germany. The eskills gap has turned from cyclical to structural. Without a substantial increase in ICT professionals, Germany will be hampered in its innovation capacity."

For Europe to avoid losing its competitive edge and emerge stronger from the global recession there is need for a continued trilateral commitment from government, industry and education. It was suggested Europe is at a critical cross road; needing to invest in a strategy and ecompetencies framework to highlight the attractiveness of ICTrelated professions.

The European e-Skills Week is a prime example of how industry and education stakeholders can contribute to close the e-Skills gap. The initiative is funded by the European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry. DIGITALEUROPE and European Schoolnet joined forces to manage the pan-European campaign on the Commission's behalf.

As part of the campaign BITKOM launched a national initiative "erlebe it" to foster e-Skills at schools. "erlebe it" matches school requirements with IT-Scouts from companies. Another partner initiative "IT Fitness" has issued 3 ICT user certificates, and provides elearning for apprentices.

"Industry faces a responsibility to cater for its own future professionals," said Rohleder. "The European e-Skills Week is an excellent means to underpin our national efforts for a competitive and innovative ICT sector."

"Europe could lose an important competitive advantage to emerging and technicallysavvy countries if we do not we fully capitalised on the ability of the digital industry to drive growth and eskills to fill jobs both key drivers for long term economic prosperity and continuity of the European social model. Now is the time to invest,' said Cosgrave.

DIGITALEUROPE is the preeminent advocacy group of the European digital economy acting on behalf of the information technology, consumer electronics and telecommunications sectors. We are dedicated to improving the business environment, and to promoting industry's contribution to economic growth and social progress in the European Union. DIGITALEUROPE's members include 58 leading corporations and 40 national trade associations from all the Member States of EU; altogether 10,000 companies with 2 million employees and €1,000 billion in revenues. You can learn more about our activities via http://www.digitaleurope.org

empirica is an internationally active research and consulting firm founded in 1988 and based in Bonn, Germany. It specializes in communication and information technology related research and consultancy to clients in both private and public sectors. Empirica helps bridge the widening gap between new developments and innovations and their application in ways fully meeting user needs. http://www.empirica.com/

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BITKOM - Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e.V.
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