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Major new EU initiative to meet ICT skills demand and reduce unemployment

04.03.2013, 13:30 GMT


A major drive to boost jobs and match young unemployed with large numbers of existing vacancies is behind a major new European initiative aimed at addressing the predicted 900,000 ICT vacancies by 2015, according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD. Among the initiatives that will be introduced are improved training and skills matching, led by Europe’s top ICT employers; a common EU certification system for ICT skills; and assistance services and funding to enable ICT workers to move within the EU to areas where demand for their skills is highest.

The Minister made the comments as he joined EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and other Commissioners as well as Europe’s leading ICT employers, ICT training providers, public employment services and other stakeholders to launch a major new initiative to improve ICT training and matching for ICT workers, young job seekers and the unemployed across the EU.

There will be up to 900,000 unfilled ICT positions in the EU by 2015, and action is needed now if Europe’s businesses, young job seekers and unemployed are not to miss the major opportunities presented by filling this ICT skills gap, Minister Bruton said.

Minister Bruton - We cannot afford to allow European labour markets to fall behind in this way and lose job opportunities in favour of other regions of the world. The time for action is now.

As Chair of the Council of Employment Ministers during the Irish Presidency of the EU, Minister Bruton helped launch the new EU initiative. He was joined by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Commission Vice President in charge of the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor and Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou. Senior management from Europe’s leading ICT employers including Google, Microsoft, HP, SAP and Cisco Systems were also in attendance.  

The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs is a new EU initiative to better match Europeans seeking work and in education with the massive number of ICT job vacancies in the EU. It will run for an initial term of 2013-15. The initiative includes the following measures:

  • Improved ICT training and skills matching, including commitments by Europe’s largest ICT employers to scale up their training programmes and make available their training content in new ways
  • The introduction of a single European certification system for ICT skills, enabling greater mobility among ICT professionals within the EU
  • Creation of assistance services and funding to enable ICT workers to move within the EU to areas where demand for their skills is highest
  • Developing a number of campaigns to ensure  European students and young professionals fully appreciate the range of ICT related jobs and career paths open to them
  • A one-stop-shop for web entrepreneurs is also being established. Startup Europe contains all available support tools and programmes for people setting-up and growing their online business. 

Minister Bruton - Making Ireland the most attractive location in the world for ICT Skills availability is a key part of the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013

In February, Minister Bruton chaired a special workshop focused on the employment potential of Europe’s ICT sector, as part of an Informal meeting of EU Employment Ministers in Dublin. The workshop’s findings were fed into the preparations for the Grand Coalition initiative. At the Dublin event, EU Ministers agreed that ensuring adequate ICT skills supply will be a crucial part of increasing employment in the EU. They also received a briefing on the measures taken in Ireland under the ICT Action Plan to ensure increased ICT skills supply.

Minister Bruton said:

“The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs is a hugely important initiative. Job creation and economic growth are at its core. Reflecting our domestic priorities, job creation in Europe is a top priority of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

 “ICT is one of the key engines of economic growth and the better use of ICT will be critical to enhanced European competitiveness, growth and jobs. Even during the economic crisis, the numbers employed in ICT have been growing by 3% annually. In spite of this, strong demand will continue and according to the latest revised data, there is expected to be up to 900,000 unfilled vacancies in the EU for ICT professionals markets to fall behind in this way and lose job opportunities in favour of other regions of the world. The time for action is now.

“The Grand Coalition on Digital Jobs is precisely what is required. The initiative ensures Europe is working with the leading ICT employers to improve education, training and retraining programmes. Importantly the initiative is being jointly driven by four EU Commissioners and Europe’s leading ICT employers including Google, Microsoft, HP, SAP and Cisco Systems. It also has clear targets and indicators of success that will be measured and evaluated, a key requirement to ensure the initiative delivers real results.

“While advanced ICT professions undoubtedly require a graduate degree in a computer-related field, for many other ICT occupations short tailored training combined with work experience can be designed to upskill or reskill jobseekers especially those with previous experience in technical or scientific areas. ICT can therefore be a promising option for workers who become unemployed.

“Making Ireland the most attractive location in the world for ICT Skills availability is a key part of the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013. By 2018, we aim to lead Europe in terms of ICT graduates as a percentage of all third level graduates.

“We have already looked to the work programme of the Grand Coalition for inspiration for many of the actions we will take whether matching, training, innovative learning, use of the European e-Competence Framework or attracting young people to careers in ICT. In Ireland the Grand Coalition initiative is already making an impact.

“We will support the work of the Coalition both as Presidency and as an interested Member State and we wish all the coalition partners working together every success with this hugely important initiative.”

ENDS

Read Minister Bruton's address.

Background Note

Find more information about the Grand Coalition for Jobs on the European Commission's website.

During the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, Minister Bruton is responsible for chairing or co-chairing meetings of three Councils - Trade, Competitiveness and EPSCO (Employment and Social Policy).

The Minister is involved in hosting three Informal Ministerial Council meetings in Dublin during the Presidency. The EPSCO Informal in February was the first of these and will be followed by a Informal Meeting of Ministers for Trade in Dublin on 17-18 April and a Informal Competitiveness Council on 1-3 May.

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