e-skills are critical to European innovation and growth

Hanne  Shapiro

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e-skills are critical to European innovation and growth

A high level of e-skills is critical for competitiveness, innovation and growth in Europe, both in the ICT sector itself and across industry. European ICT entrepreneurs need to have the e-skills required to fully exploit the innovation potential of ICTs, and European industries and SMEs need to be able recruit the best skilled workers. In 2008, the total number of ICT practitioners in Europe was almost 4 million, more than double the 1995 figure.

Nevertheless, alarm bells are ringing; recent studies indicate that the EU labour market will face a shortage of up to 384,000 ICT practitioners by 2015 (The eSkills Manifesto. A call to Arms, 2010). In the face of increasing global competition there is a pressing need to ensure that European enterprises have access to an e-skilled workforce, and that ICT practitioners are provided with the right incentives and training opportunities to update their e-skills.

For these reasons the European Commission, Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General  launched the study E-skills for ICT Practitioners and Entrepreneurs. The aim of this high-level study was to identify and make recommendations for e-skills requirements in the domains of green-IT, cyber-security and cloud computing. A special focus is on competitiveness and innovation and the needs of SMEs and start-ups.

“One of the most fundamental resources to innovation strategies are e-skills . The study shall promote best practices and formulate concrete proposals that address e-skills requirements and help us set out recommendations for follow-up actions at EU and national level,” said André Richier, Principal Officer in the Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General, Directorate for Industrial Innovation and Mobility Industries.

The study was launched in January 2011and finished in April 2012. The study engaged the European e-skills community through interviews and events, and sought input and consultation from all interested parties via the web-platform, www.europeaneskills.eu. The findings and data collection were based on desk research of recent reports and studies from the EU, Asia and the USA. It also analysed statistical data and case studies of best practice and included a large number of interviews with experts and stakeholders.

The study resulted in a number of evidence-based recommendations for policy measures that will help ensure the access to and development of critical e-skills in the areas of green-IT, cyber-security and cloud computing.

The recommendations were action-oriented, strategic and ambitious. Thus, Europe must be bold in initiating forward-looking systemic reforms in our education and lifelong learning systems. The innovation strategy of the future for the European ICT software and services sector is a skills- and learning- intensive strategy; this could be critical to a competitive and creative Europe in the future.

Download study report:

The consortium carrying out the study consisted of Danish Technological Institute (Denmark) and Fraunhofer ICT-Group (Germany). Danish Technological Institute and the Fraunhofer ICT-Group represented a strong and dedicated consortium with expertise in technological trends and business development in the fields of e-skills. Together the consortium had solid knowledge of how to strengthen the competitiveness and innovation of European enterprises, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  

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