Europe faces major IT-skills black hole

11 Dec 2007

Europe is in severe danger of falling short of people with the right computer skills by 2010, with an estimated shortfall of 70,000 by that stage.

According to research from a consortium — including the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies, the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research and Eurochambres — demand is calculated to be as much as 250,000 per year by then, drawing on an insufficient supply pool of just 180,000.

The consortium warns the shortfall could cause the EU to lose its competitive advantage on the world stage and shift ICT activity to other rival global regions.

They warn that ICT must not be allowed to develop “organically” – it must be managed if we are to avoid the industry facing an inadequate workforce.

The shortfall, they warn, could take two forms – too few people and not the right depth of skills.

Calling on policymakers in education in regional and national governments to address Europe’s ICT-workforce needs now, the consortium has called for promotion of better understanding within the ICT industry and professional bodies of current quantitative and qualitative-skill levels in Europe.

They have also called for the benchmarking of EU-skill levels against competitive economies and for public-private initiatives and investments by ICT industry players and the European Commission to estimate future levels of demand.

Training, they say, must be used more consistently and it should be ensured that ICT skills are transferred throughout businesses.

The consortium also calls for concentration on the quality aspects of skills shortages, not just the quality. “The ICT industry needs skills elites and people with the right level of excellence.

“A greater supply of ICT professionals must be stimulated by the right research and development; a clear and pragmatic immigration policy; and co-operation between professional bodies, trade unions and policymakers,” the consortium said in a statement.

“The ICT industry itself can play an important role in co-ordinating the efforts of these groups by working closely with educational institutions.”

By John Kennedy