The economic growth in Europe relies on innovation and on the successful transformation of businesses. The digital economy is vibrant and growing rapidly. In order to gain efficiency, establish new markets and develop new business models, companies and public services are investing in advanced digital technologies such as mobile communications, cloud computing, big data analytics and smart devices. The adoption of these technologies has massive transformative power, adding genuine value to society and providing tools for the next generation of entrepreneurs across Europe. This is especially true today, as digital technologies are transforming every area of economic and social life. We must ensure that these benefits are felt throughout Europe.
However in order to drive a successful digital transformation, harnessing digital and entrepreneurial skills has become a pre-requisite for success. The skills demand must be addressed to enable economies to take advantage of the productivity gains from adopting digital solutions, meet the growing industry demand for skilled staff, and increase opportunities for young talents in today’s difficult job market.
While new technologies are widely adopted, and at the same time create new types of jobs that have not existed before, the demand for highly specialised skills is growing rapidly. By 2020, Cloud Computing has a potential to generate 2.5 million cloud-related jobs. In Germany alone, SMEs could create 670,000 new jobs by using technology effectively. Digital jobs contribute to job creation also outside of tech Industry: for every high tech job, up to four non high-tech jobs are created in the local economy.
Over the last years, the number of ICT jobs has been growing faster than any other job category. Employment of ICT professionals has grown more than 3% per year (for the last 10 years). These ICT professionals work in all sectors of the economy and represent 2,8% of our workforce7 . Notwithstanding this, Europe is faced with a significant shortage of people capable of filling existing and newly created digital jobs. According to European Commission estimates, an additional 150,000 IT experts are needed every year in Europe. It should also be noted that the number of fresh IT graduates is not keeping up with the demand.
The different growth rates found between the demand and supply of digital technology experts is the origin of what is termed the digital skills gap.
Initiatives from the European Commission including the eSkills Week and eSkills or Jobs campaigns held since 2010, and the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs launched in 2013 have contributed to reducing this gap. Whilst still high at just over 700,000, the digital skills gap is slowly but surely reducing (the gap was estimated in 2010 at + 1 million).
The ICT industry, and its European umbrella association DIGITALEUROPE, have been heavily involved in these initiatives aiming to increase the supply of ICT professionals throughout Europe and to further contribute to reduce the digital skills gap.