EC Warns Youth Are Not ‘Digitally Competent’

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European Commissions launches European e-Skills Week 2012

The European Commission (EC) has warned young people may be at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for jobs because they are unable to use their digital skills in a business context.

The warning came as the EC launched the European e-Skills Week 2012, an initiative aimed at improving young people’s employability by making them digitally competent.

Digital competency

“Virtually all young people are familiar with electronic games and social networking and might be considered as ‘digital natives’, but they are not “digitally competent” in the sense that they do not know sufficiently how to use the digital world in a business context,” said the EC.

The European e-Skills Week will comprise a number of activities and events designed to inform young people on how to acquire such skills from between the 19 and 30 March. The EC says that the driving force behind the initiative was the importance of ICT skills to the future of the European economy and an increase in jobs which require a high level of education.

It says the number of ICT practitioners in the EU is set to reach 5.26 million by 2015 and the number of jobs for highly qualified people is expected to rise by 16 million by 2010. Overall, 90 percent of all jobs will require the application of e-Skills by 2015.

Growing shortfall

The ICT sector currently constitutes five percent of European GDP and has an annual market value of €660 billion (£522bn), although it contributes far more to growth through ICT investments in all sectors. Despite the economic climate, the European ICT workforce is also growing at a rate of three percent but is suffering from a growing shortage of talent with a shortfall of 700,000 professionals forecast for 2015.

“Young people need to appreciate the professional aspects of the new digital world,” said Antonio Tajani, European Commission vice president and commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship. “I am worried, as supply has become a bottleneck for growth in the tech sector, creating a leaky pipeline that threatens to hamper European innovation and global competitiveness. This is more important than ever in the current economic context. And it is crucial to increase creativity which will favour entrepreneurship and new start-ups.”

The UK struggles to fill the estimated 110,000 new IT jobs created every year and has promised to replace the current “harmful and dull” ICT curriculum with a new programme of study that includes compulsory lessons in computer science and programming. The Open University has also launched undergraduate programmes in an effort to address the shortfall.

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