European leaders have long dreamed of a “new renaissance” for the continent. The EU itself was originally conceived as a way to lift European countries out of the ruins of war, and to foster economic growth and prosperity. Today, we are far from the poverty and collapse of a genuine “dark age”, but it certainly feels like a rebirth is long overdue.
The digital and high-tech economy in particular holds enormous promise. Europeans can no longer compete with low-income countries in terms of manufacturing, but innovation and new technology can still be a source of growth and jobs. And yet, normal Europeans often lack the “e-skills” needed to take advantage of a rapidly changing economy. Despite stubbornly high unemployment rates of around 10% across the continent, European employers are predicted to struggle to fill up to 850’000 skilled positions in the digital sector by the year 2020.
Want to know more about digital innovation, education, and Europe’s economy? We’ve put together some of the facts and figures into an infographic below (click for a bigger version).
We had a comment sent in from one of our readers, Marina, arguing that the pressure for change is greater in the digital sector than almost anywhere else: “More than in many other sectors of the economy, the IT industry is constantly under the pressure of change, innovation, growth, emerging technologies and new business models.”
Can Europe cope with the pace of change? Only a small fraction of the largest tech companies in the world (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) are based in the EU. Why is Europe so slow to innovate in the digital sector compared to other countries, such as the United States? Why aren’t European businesses taking advantage of the internet to build a “digital renaissance”?
To get a response, we spoke to to Victor Negrescu, a Romanian Social Democratic MEP and eSkills for Jobs 2015 Ambassador. What would he say?
Next up, we had a comment from Claudia, who thought the secret to digital innovation was more government investment: “We need… our own Silicon Valley. We could start implementing European technology research centres and build European Universities in every country of the union.”
What would a start-up founder say to Claudia? We spoke to Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke. She is Managing Director and founder of the Women’s Worldwide Web (W4), an online crowdfunding platform aiming to promote girls’ and women’s empowerment worldwide, and one of the 40 Under 40 European Young Leaders. Did she think the secret to digital innovation was big government spending, or cutting bureaucracy and red tape?
How can we create an “economic renaissance” for Europe’s businesses? Is government investment the secret to digital innovation? Or should the bureaucrats just get out of the way and let the innovators make things? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!