The EU digital scoreboard has, once again, ranked Ireland in eighth place, but it has also revealed that Irish broadband users are shelling out double the EU average and are falling behind in national progress.
The EU digital scoreboard – officially referred to as the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is the union’s ranking of all the member states in five ICT categories, specifically: connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology and digital public services.
Collecting data across 2015, the scoreboard has shown that, despite progress being made universally by the 28 member states, the rate of progression is varying considerably, with three distinct clusters of progress appearing.
According to the DESI, the union has progressed from last year’s figure of 0.5 up to a score of 0.52, largely driven by the advancements made in the rollout of better broadband infrastructure and the digitisation of businesses across the EU.
However, this figure also hides the reality that this rate of progress has halved since the last digital scoreboard was assembled between 2014 and 2015.
More worryingly for the EU, the slowdown has been registered across four-of-the-five dimensions that are factored into the index, with digital business integration being the only one that grew.
As for those clusters mentioned earlier, well, Ireland has been categorised in the slightly-confusingly titled cluster ‘lagging ahead’.
This basically means that while we have scored above the EU average of 0.62 with a score of 0.59, we are considered to be below the progress rate of the EU as a whole, which puts us with other countries, including the UK, Sweden, Belgium and Finland.
While Ireland was ranked first in the EU for digital integration with businesses, the celebrations stop there for the average broadband user in Ireland.
Despite our increasing demand for internet services – with 68pc of us saying that Netflix et al is our favourite activity – Irish users are shelling out double the EU average for broadband when measured as a proportion of our income.
Severe shortage of ICT professionals
This is despite that fact that, in terms of national access to fixed broadband and take-up of broadband, Ireland ranks a lowly 20th in the EU on both counts.
In a final comment, the authors of the DESI noted that there remains a severe shortage of ICT professionals: “Demand for skilled ICT professionals within the economy has been rising, while the supply is not keeping pace.
“Around half of enterprises trying to employ ICT specialists report difficulties doing so. More young people need to be attracted to ICT jobs, which provide good career opportunities, are well paid and which are key skills for deriving the benefits of ICT for the economy and society.”
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