European Commission urges education ministers to close IT skills gap

Skills gap

Two senior European Commission (EC) officials have sent an open letter to education ministers to address the continent-wide ICT skills gap.

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the EC and member of the EC Androulla Vassilou explained there will be a shortage of 900,000 ICT practitioners in the European labour market by the end of 2020. And, unless action is taken today, there will be a huge strain' on Europe's competitiveness versus the rest of the world.

The problem has arisen because the number of jobs requiring some aspect of digital skills is increasing as it encompasses every industry, but the number of graduates completing relevant degrees particularly computer science is falling.

Kroes and Vassilou said digital skills should be taught as a compulsory part of the curriculum, as it has been in Estonia since 2012.

They detailed how France is offering optional courses and both Finland and Italy are considering it, but more needs to be done to make it a universal talent.

"Each child should have the opportunity to develop basic coding skills in order to become an informed and empowered digital citizen."

The letter goes on to explain how learning digital skills such as coding will have a positive impact on the whole educational process for youngsters.

It explained: "Coding will also directly help students to develop transversal skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving, team working, and creativity."

The letter finished inviting the ministers to take action and encouraged the countries to take part in initiatives such as the EU's Code Week that will take place from 11-17 October around Europe.

"With your help, we aim to reach many more citizens this year, getting millions of children, parents, teachers, entrepreneurs and policy makers across Europe to come together in fun and creative ways to develop digital skills and discover coding in events or classrooms."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.