Report: eSkills are needed to drive European innovation
In the coming five years, only 10% of jobs will be left for those who have no ICT skills, a figure that is especially significant at a time of rising unemployment in Europe and worldwide.
This is just one of the results highlighted by the survey of over 1,300 employers and training partners in 13 European countries, released this week by Microsoft and the research firm IDC, entitled “Post Crisis: e-skills are needed to drive Europe’s innovation society” (view PDF). The quest for jobs truly does remain one of the top challenges on the horizon for Europe 2020.
I wanted to share some comments and lessons learned from the study and also from a rich debate amongst stakeholders which Microsoft hosted on November 30th, where attendees included Swedish State Secretary, Eva Uden Sonnegard, the Head of Unit for ICT for Competitiveness and Innovation at DG Enterprise, Mr Costas Andropoulos, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs at the European Parliament, Madame Pervenche Beres, and Dr. Milan Cabrnoch MEP.
The e-skills Study really is very timely and I was pleased to learn that experts and policy makers deem “Innovation Skills” a key source of job creation and growth for Europe. In addition, unlike other sources of growth, skills are a renewable source, although a few conditions need to be in place for this to come true. The report also mentions that businesses, public authorities and stakeholders need to sustain investments, even in tough economic times; and that we need to scale up activities to build the talent pipeline for tomorrow’s minds and innovators (although investments in innovation skills and e-skills require time to yield returns.) However, the Return on Investment (RoI) of such activities gives both economic and social benefits and we will succeed only if we tackle - at the same time and in a concerted way – skills for Innovation, Inclusion and Career Opportunities
For this reason Microsoft has invested over €65 million in cash and kind in programmes related to skills over the last year.
Another item highlighted in the report is that skills requirements are changing - and changing fast. Cloud computing, Green IT, e-Health, and cyber-security emerge as four areas in which curricula need to be developed: more training is needed and greater professionalization can be achieved. In addition, as we proceed, we should pursue a more streamlined policy approach to promote a holistic view on skills across the fields of education, research, industry, employment and the information society. To achieve this, overcoming silos and adopting multi-stakeholder partnerships is essential - why not start with skills, as they are a pre-condition to secure the future capital of innovation…? The EU e-skills Week 2010 is a great example of such a partnership-based approach.
I am convinced that if Europe wants to realize the promise of the European Digital Agenda, as indicated by Commission President Barroso, then Europe cannot skip investing in skills. These skills will ensure that Europe makes the transition to a greener and healthier society; that SMEs are competitive; that the younger generation has “more marketable knowledge” when entering the workplace; and that more people are included in the online services for the digital economy.
In case you missed it above, here's the link to the report.