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!