There are over 20 million people unemployed in the EU today. That makes it especially perverse that companies in the ICT sector are struggling to fill vacancies, with predictions that a lack of digital skills in the labour force could lead to a shortfall of over 800,000 jobs by 2020.

If Europe is to be successful in the new digital era, does greater emphasis need to be placed on digital training to help businesses and individuals? Or is the ‘skills gap’ being exaggerated, and would valuable education resources be better invested in teaching more general skills such as teamwork, creativity, and problem solving? How much responsibility for digital skills training lies with the education sector, and how much with businesses themselves?

To get some responses, we interviewed some of the speakers at an event in Brussels co-hosted by Google and our partner think-tank, Friends of Europe. The event was focused on the question of digital skills across Europe, and we came equipped with some reader questions.

Want to learn more about growth and digital skills in Europe? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):


First up, we had a comment from Mercurio, who asked the public education system should shoulder the burden of training people in digital skills when the private sector reaps the rewards. He asked whether businesses shouldn’t provide more on-the-job training in digital skills?

We spoke to Catherine Stihler, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the British Labour Party and Vice Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. How would she respond to Mercurio?

Besides training, what else can companies do to help close the skills gap? For an answer, we spoke to Matt Brittin, Google’s President for Europe.

Next up, we had a comment from Nando from Portugal. He argues that the importance of digital skills is being overstated, and that problem solving, creative thinking, teamwork, etc., are much more important skills to teach young people.

To get a response, we spoke to Séverine Payet, Marketing Manager of edjing, the world’s most downloaded DJing app. Working for a small company with a heavy digital focus, what would she say to Nando?

Finally, we spoke to Tano Lopez, Founder and CEO of the Fleed International Student Network, a platform designed to help international students find scholarships in the USA. Lopez is a gradudate of the Activate course in Spain, which taught him the fundamentals of online marketing. As somebody on the receiving end of a digital skills course, how would he respond to Nando?

Could digital skills training be a solution to Europe’s unemployment crisis? Would ICT skills training help young Europeans find jobs? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Jopperbok

34 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Γεώργιος Δανιηλίδης

    Τhere is no job crisis but new liberal policies domination that increased legal work hours.A strict 35 hour work week AS IT WAS THE RULE SOME YEARS AGO will erase all unemployment to zero and benefit even work productivity.

  2. avatar
    Valerio Jeson Maggi

    Of course not. The job problem is not about technology or productivity. It is about wages and consumption. But somebody thought that cutting wages would bring more production. Then someone comes up with a question: who’s gonna get the goods that are produced? Mercantilist north-European ideology says that if I export I am good if I import I’m bad. But if the good ones export it means that someone is importing. But if the importer makes the exporter look good, how can he be bad? Of course if you have a single currency you can land money to the southern countries so they could get the northern products. So the private debt goes up to the point that people and enterprises cannot repaid their debts. Obviously someone get too many debts when someone gives him too much money. To keep al this “Europe” together the OCA theory says that automatic transfer should happen between those in surplus and those in the deficit. Go and tell the Germans that their taxes are going southwards, when in the last 20 years their leaders told them that Italians etc were just lazy pigs. Do you think it is politically possible. Countries should wait another country to change its mind? Then there is the factor of the mobility of the workers. In the US if the economy in Louisiana shrinks I can go to NYC or California of Illinois etc. It seems obvious that there are a set of shared formal and informal laws and culture( language, federal law etc) is it the same to move from Naples to Stoccarda that to move from NYC to LA? I do not suppose so. By the way there are people travelling around Europe seeking a job. But then you have to think that also many skilled or high skilled workers are moving. So a country educates with its resources big skilled professionals, then another country will benefit from those skills for free. It is the entire European construction that brings huge unemployment because it has been built under the liberistic ideology, which has already be proven to be bad. But, ok let’s s see what happens. Some economists say that doing the wrong thing will bring you
    to the right place.

  3. avatar
    Stephen A Savva

    The answer is no. We are in the mess we are in today because of technology. We need people out there farming our lands, fishing in our seas. Building much needed infrastructure – physically making stuff. Not sat in an office all day staring at a screen all day.

  4. avatar
    Tano Lopez

    The answer is like always 50%, there are two faces to every coin, please watch my video (the last one on the article) and feel free to respond with your thoughts. love!

  5. avatar
    Jaime Oliveira

    Technologies such as video conferencing, social networks and virtual office removed boundaries that previously limited business expansion… They promote efficiency and mobility. No wonder companies desperately need digitally skilled people. Of course, no one should be forced to learn IT skills, but if you want to increase your employability, you should definitively invest in them!

  6. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    The zenith of demand for IT skills will be reached sooner than most people think.

    Already programs are writing programs ergo less programmers are needed, thus less jobs are available, thus greater levels of unemployment will ensue.

  7. avatar
    Adrian Limbidis

    You just don’t GET IT , do you?
    Nothing will stop automation and the disappearence of jobs. Get over it !
    This idea that everyone has to WORK for a living is becoming outdated.

    We need an Universal Basic Income – NOW or we are going down !
    And no amount of “jobs” will stop this.

  8. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does Europe seriously believe the mass invasion of those from outside Europe will be up to digital training skills, in their millions? Our news informs us that over 1.5 million migrants arrived in Europe in the last 8 months. If they are saying 1.5m you know it has to be double that. If you don’t believe it, work it out for yourselves. at around 5,000 a day from different ports that is 40,000 a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and come up with an around figure. This does not include those entering illegally and unseen.

    They have nowhere to go my eye. How can that be possible. Send them to Africa, South America, India, South and north America, there are plenty of places to go there. Or, is the ‘UN’ (Human Rights) telling us all those countries are unfit for human beings to exist? Because if they are, be ready for extinction as a people and a culture.

    And here in this Mail article we read what they are doing as a regualr feature in Sweden for many years. Something the Swedes have kept silent about. Just the way the British have about ours.

    Now why would Europe turn on its own women like this? Why would they not want to protect our girls from such a terrible fate? These people are not working and paying taxes. Therefore they are a drain on our society, even if they keep the wages down. Which is the main reason for the open door policy… More taxes…. That is why the fashion was to force women with families to work. AS they are 50% of the population they wanted them working to raise the spending level for half the return to us. This is to pay more taxes to enable the corporations to sell more and their top brass to become multi billionaires. The immigration tactic was supposed to do the same. More taxes for less products. And forget them worrying about our quality of life and what working 24/7 does to our health and childrens health and welfare. So, all you paying out higher and higher taxes to keep immigrants spending it, ask yourself if you are happy about such a betrayal by those you voted for? You voted for them whilst their intention was to impoverish you and hide the danger they put European women and girls in to do so.

  9. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    An odd question as you can’t have good digital skills without the ability to think creatively, solve problems and work as a team….. unless you work for Microsoft obviously, in which case just copy someone else’s work.

  10. avatar
    Janet Standen

    What is included within “digital skills?”

  11. avatar

    Education and training. Vocational training and skills. Investment into education, courses and training will help these 20 million get a job. More skills, more jobs. Simple. However, the government needs to assess which skills. And these skills will need to be on the basis of demand. More demand for engineering, skills for engineering will be more employable. Training from a young age and better incentives for businesses to recruit people will help. If a business employs more people, the government needs to incentivise them to do so!

  12. avatar

    I encounter many people who feel that just getting a degree that gives them a “menu” of skills to show their employer have no understanding how to make those skills help them solve problems. Some people can study but really are not capable of being creative. Just teaching more people to code does no good unless they are coding to somewhere along the line to support the production of physical good. We can’t all right code to help each other write better code. So many people know how to make a spreadsheet with columns that add. Just selling everyone a class on programming does not mean that they can get work programming.

  13. avatar
    Shahadat Bablu Hossain

    So romantic! Thinks realistic.
    European Union needs a new infrastructure for economic, industrial productivity, avoid import from our side EU, create jobs opportunity in Eu, social , political modifications and equal justice for all EU people’s !!!

  14. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    Brussels is in the process of destroying the jobs market across the EU so why would anyone think the digital jobs market would fair any better ?

  15. avatar
    Marco Musazzi

    I wish it was that easy! Improving your skills gives u a chance to stand out from the crowd and improve your own position, but it doesn’t create jobs (at least not for everybody).
    In the next few decades we are going to lose far too many jobs because of automation: this requires no less than an international effort to address the consequences of this unprecedented change.

  16. avatar

    One assues that the world is going all digital. Car frames are going to be digital. Landscape and rivers and boats are going to be digital. Food is going to be digital. Housing is going to be digital. Digital is good, but do not turn it into a panacea for job creation.

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