e-Skills gap and digital jobs vacancies to increase – Potential for more than half a million unfilled new jobs for ICT practitioners by 2015 in Europe. To fill these jobs, many Member States need to step up policy action

The authors also expect the trend towards higher-level skills in ICT jobs to continue. The main forecast scenario suggests that by 2020 the number of ICT management, architecture and analysis jobs grows by 44% compared to 2011, and the number of professional level jobs by 16%, while technician jobs will continue to disappear as a result of automation, off-shoring, and productivity gains. Consequently, the study claims that there is a corresponding need to increase the quality and relevance of e-skills available in the labour market, particularly since the supply of university graduates is not keeping pace.

The significant growth in highly skilled jobs, such as management, architecture and analytics positions, reinforces the need for what has been termed “e-Leadership skills”, a combination of technical, business and leadership skills and competences. Since these positions are usually filled by recruits from a pool of seasoned practitioners and other (non-ICT) managers, the study anticipates recruitment bottlenecks over time.

The pace of change in ICT jobs is also leading to new job profiles – such as Big Data and Cloud computing specialists, rather than classic ICT jobs. New jobs are likely to be created in all industry sectors, and beyond the traditional pathway of ICT studies, but with a strong imperative for ICT to permeate other and new educational trajectories. There is a great need today for new education approaches, new modes of delivery, better curricula and learning outcomes to fill this gap.

Governments in Europe are increasing their efforts to address the skill shortage through dedicated policies, initiatives and partnerships, although most countries still lack a strategy, or continuity across the policy areas concerned. Of the then-27 Member States, 12 show a value of 3 or higher on the 5-point index scale for e-skills activity. The leading countries, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, France, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden, also perform strongly in activity for ensuring adequate supplies of ICT practitioners on the labour market today and in the future.

The degree of integration and consistency of policy-making is still limited in many Member States. It is striking that countries with significant activity in the e-skills domain also have the highest share of ICT workers in their workforce, and rank highest on innovation and competitiveness indices such as the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which measures the capacities of economies to leverage ICT for increased competitiveness and development. Some countries which could be described as latecomers have become more active recently. Lithuania and Poland have started e-skills programmes as national Grand Coalitions for Digital Jobs, as part of the Commission initiative with the same name. Ten further Member States, mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe, are also planning to launch national programmes.