EU warns over European IT skills crisis

The European Commission has warned of an impending skills shortage that could threaten competitiveness on a global level.

According to EC vice president Antonio Tajani, there are major concerns of a bottleneck for tech sector growth, stemming from a lack of relevant IT skills being taught in schools.

While young people know their way around cutting edge technology, knowledge is predominantly on a consuming basis, rather than creative.

According to Tajani, the situation “threatens to hamper European innovation and global competitiveness”, claiming that it is “crucial” that creativity is increased to boost new start-ups and aid entrepreneurship.

EC stats show that by 2015, 90 percent of jobs will require some form of e-skills.  This means that the ability of Europe to compete in business and industry is reliant on a stronger knowledge of IT skills.

Considering the current economic climate, Tajani says, this is more important than ever.

Business leaders have been saying that skills shortages have been looming for a decade now.  IEEE boss Moshe Kam told TechEye a similar story a while back.

In the UK there have been attempts made to address the problem, with the government agreeing to change the ICT curriculum and promote computer sciences. This was in response to considerable pressure from the IT industry, both in the UK and further afield, with even Google boss Eric Schmidt lamenting Britain’s decline in IT skills.

The release of the RaspberryPi mini USB computer has also brought about something of a renaissance in computer sciences, promoting programming skills amongst youngsters and being compared to a modern day BBC Micro.

However, British companies such as Compuware have shown that there is still a long way to go to keep CIOs happy with the skill base available.

According to Adam Thilthorpe, Director of Professionalism at the Chartered Institute of IT, the EU and the UK have “every right to be concerned”.

He told TechEye that there is “massive demand” for highly skilled workers with the prevelance of technology in our daily lives.

“With the changing nature of the global economy I think that is going to become more and more apparent,” he said. “Manufacturing and natural resources cant be relied upon to generate GDP here.”

“The knowledge economy is something where we can drive GDP growth,” Thilthorpe said, “it is of major importance.”

Thilthorpe agrees that it has taken a long time for policy makers to react to looming skills shortages.

“The penny has dropped – it took a long time coming.  It is very difficult to deny that IT has become absolutely ubiquitous,” he said. “People are beginning to understand that if they get stuff right they can reap the benefits very quickly.”