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ECDL Foundation Welcomes the European Commission Initiative ‘An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’ and Stresses the Importance of ICT Skills in Employment Generation

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This Agenda’s aim of decreasing unemployment is critical as is the role of ICT skills in boosting Europeans’ employability 

3rd December 2010

There are currently 23 million people unemployed across the EU – which is going to have dramatic consequences for Europe’s growth, tax base and ability to innovate – yet employers are also reporting a difficulty in recruiting, especially for high-skill jobs. This grave, and seemingly contradictory scenario, has prompted the European Commission to take steps to reduce the current skills mismatch through this timely agenda.

ECDL Foundation, as the certifying authority of the leading international computer skills certification programme ECDL / ICDL, applauds the agenda’s proposal for incentives for public and private investment in education and training, and stresses the transversal role of digital competence as the key to increasing employment levels in Europe. This position is reinforced by a recent study commissioned by the world’s leading technologies company stating that, in the next five years, 90% of all jobs in Europe will require ICT skills1.

Additionally, Member States are encouraged to take the initiative by developing policies and other suitable incentives with the appropriate priority placed on digital competence, in tandem with the European Commission’s aim to make sure that skills are in line with demand, and that all Europeans receive high quality education and training to equip them with the skills they need to find work. ECDL Foundation strongly believes that the future-proofing of Europe requires that ICT skills’ development be at the core of all workplace and education systems.

We look forward to the upcoming European Commission activities in relation to lifelong learning, with the hope that ICT skills development will be firmly embedded in the planned European Policy handbook and action plan for adult learning. We welcome a Europe-wide approach to the integration of digital literacy and digital competence into core lifelong learning policies. Certification – in particular vendor-neutral certification – is the best means of measuring the success and return on investment of any continuing education and lifelong learning policies.

According to the European Commission, there will be an estimated deficit in Europe of 700,000 ICT specialists by 2015. As such, ECDL Foundation stresses the importance of skilling ICT professionals in line with the labour market demands, and that the imminent work on ICT Professionalism will increase the attractiveness of the ICT profession, thus reducing the skills deficit in this field.

An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs will help to generate growth and boost Europeans’ employability only if ICT skills development, education policies, and company incentives to skill their human capital are coordinated at a Member State level, and are relevant to the needs of the labour market.

 

1 IDC White Paper (Sponsored by Microsoft): e-Skills are needed to Drive Europe’s Innovation Society (November 2009)