• » ICT skills gap key to EU employment strategy

    Minister Bruton chairs council on employment and social policy in Brussels

    11 Feb 2013 : Tackling the increasing shortage of ICT skills will be a crucial part of the EU's employment strategy, according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD.

    The minister cited projects which said that there could be up to 700,000 unfilled vacancies in the EU by 2015, despite the expected growth rate of 7.6%, around double the average, in ICT jobs in the EU over the next 10 years.

    Minister Bruton was speaking at the two-day Informal Employment and Social Policy Council which he co-chaired with Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD.

    In Dublin, Employment Ministers have agreed that ensuring adequate skills supply to fill vacancies in the ICT sector will be a crucial part of growing jobs in the EU. Also discussed were lessons from national initiatives taken in the ICT skills area, as well as specific case studies including measures taken in Ireland under the ICT Action Plan jointly launched by Minister Bruton with Minister Quinn in January 2012 as part of the Action Plan for Jobs.

    "Reflecting our domestic priorities, the Irish Government has identified job-creation as a top priority during our Presidency of the Council of the EU," said Minister Bruton. "In recent years through the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work initiatives we have made significant changes to the Irish economy to support job-creation. Many of the challenges we have faced in Ireland are common across the EU, such as for example the ICT skills gap.

    "Skills mismatches in the EU have increased markedly during the crisis. We need to strengthen cooperation on existing Community policies, instruments and processes so as to enable Member States to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their national skills systems, benchmark them internationally and develop policies to transform better skills into better jobs."

    "Ireland's experience in addressing the skills gap under the ICT Action Plan, which saw collaboration between Government, State agencies, the education sector and enterprise, provides a valuable model for other member states. Governments need to adopt the right skills strategies in order to bridge the gap between employers' needs and the education system and to make ICT qualifications and careers more attractive to first-time students and those re-skilling and also to improve on the low percentage of women working in the ICT sector.

    Minister Bruton has said that he intends to take forward the deliberations from the workshop to the launch of a Grand Coalition for digital jobs in Brussels on 4 March, at which he has been invited to deliver a key note address. The Grand Coalition will involve the four Commissioners responsible for Employment, the Digital Agenda, Education, and Enterprise in a multi-stakeholder partnership seeking to reduce the gap between supply and demand for ICT practitioners in Europe. This ensures that the conclusions of this workshop have an immediate audience and path forward for action.