Looking for job opportunities? Here you go: There is high demand for IT skills and it is growing – everywhere in the world. In Europe alone, 900,000 jobs in the IT field are projected to be vacant by 2020. But how can you access this field? What knowledge do you need to find a job? How do you prove that you actually have the right skills? No clue? You’re not alone! On 29 September, the European Commission is hosting a workshop on “Digital Action Day” in Brussels titled “Does Europe have the digital skills to succeed?” to address these very questions.
iversity is collecting your questions and answers to present at the workshop. Share your views with us and we’ll report them directly to European decision-makers and other stakeholders from the ICT field. We’ve broken this down into five questions and would really appreciate your input.
So here are our questions:
1. How can Europe address the digital skills needs of all people, taking into account different entry levels?
Skills levels vary dramatically within the European population and across the EU member states. A European strategy to enforce digital skills must take this into account and provide educational measures for all interested learners: university-level courses for students, opportunities for further education for the working population, vocational (re-)training for unemployed people. How can we make sure that Europeans have access to the educational opportunities they need?
2. What skills are actually needed?
Not only the major ICT companies are looking for web talent. The shortage of skilled staff also affects large, small and medium enterprises from other sectors that need network security and database experts, web designers and many other specialists. However, it is unclear which skills in particular will be needed most.
In order to determine the skills that are actually required, a dialogue with stakeholders from the industry is crucial. To that end, the European Commission has launched the “Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs“. Among other action points, industry stakeholders have given their promise to offer vocational training to young people even beyond their own needs and to qualify 100,000 trainees by 2015. What has been achieved in this field so far?
3. How can people who are attracted by a job in digital technology find out about the requirements of the labor market?
And how can they document their study achievements when they acquire new skills? The market for qualifications has a significant transparency problem, and orientation is hard to come by. It is anything but obvious for people who attempt to enter the ICT field to find out which qualifications are needed for which positions, which career paths the digital sector offers and what qualifications employers are looking for. How can we make the demand for jobs more transparent, so that people who are willing to acquire new qualifications can orient their study efforts in the right direction?
Once learners have acquired new skills, they would like to document them – but how? The e-Competence Framework was created in the context of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) with the objective to make qualifications comparable and portable between European countries. How is this being accepted by students and employers?
4. What is the role of digital educational media such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) hold the potential to teach an unlimited number of students, also in the ICT field. Which role can MOOCs and other digital educational formats play in providing the digital skills that are required? In the context of the Startup Europe programme, the European Commission has launched the “MOOCs for Web Talent” network. In a survey conducted with students, developers and entrepreneurs, online courses were identified to be relevant for teaching digital skills. However, the study also identified pain points, such as the lack of proper certification. How can skills obtained online be adequately measured and certified? How can universities and other institutions offering MOOCs be adequately funded and supported to meet the demands of the market?
5. How can we organise a better match of labor market demands and educational curricula?
Given the rapidly changing requirements for skills in the digital economy, we must ensure an efficient transfer between the labor market and educational institutions. How can we better monitor the demand for skills on the job market and orient the supply offered by education providers along these lines? How can reaction times be minimised?
Another fundamental question in this context: Which institutions should be in charge of disseminating digital knowledge and skills? At what stage in educational careers should digital literacy be stimulated/promoted? As early as primary school? Or through specialisation courses in high schools and universities?
We welcome your input to any of these questions! Leave your thoughts in a comment below!