In Germany’s knowledge-rich economy, it is estimated that 75 percent of productivity growth is generated through the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in the workplace, where one in two German employees uses a PC in their job.
Boosting ‘IT fitness’ through skills and qualifications in Germany
|Program Fast Facts
Germany’s ICT skills gap is estimated to cost €4,5 billion in unrealized economic growth every year.
The IT Fitness initiative aims to bring IT skills training to 4 million people across Germany by 2010 through online testing and training, and an expanding network of community training centers.
- Improved ICT skills and knowledge boosts confidence and opportunities for individuals and their communities
- By early 2009, over 1.7 million people have done the online IT Fitness test
- In 2008, IT Fitness won German and European awards for public relations excellence in promoting this important cause.
At the same time, 31 percent of the German population does not use the Internet, and the average PC use in schools is relatively low (eight PCs per one hundred students). This is contributing to an ICT skills deficit that is estimated to cost Germany €4,5 billion in unrealized economic growth every year.
Corresponding to this need, in 2006 the IT Fitness initiative was launched by Bill Gates and the German Federal Minister for Economics and Technology, as a nationwide effort to enable people of all ages and professions to gain important ICT foundation skills for use in school, vocational education or in their jobs.
As Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, explains: “It is necessary to know the world – but you also need to know many things; reading and writing are things everybody thinks of. But in our modern world, the knowledge of information technologies is part of it. And that is why IT fitness is very important.”
IT Fitness is a cross-sector initiative led by Microsoft and the non-profit organization IT Bildungsnetz (IT Education Net). The major industry partners include the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), CISCO, Deutsche Bahn, State Street, Randstad and the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New media (BITKOM). The initiative also collaborates with the German Federal Employment Agency and NGOs such as the Henry Maske Foundation, Naunyn Ritze and Caritas Germany. Together, the IT Fitness partners aim to bring IT skills training to 4 million unemployed people and others from disadvantaged backgrounds across Germany who are not being reached through traditional education.
The IT Fitness partnership also comprises the German chapter of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability, a pan-European initiative which aims to bring IT skills training and opportunity to more than 20 million people by 2010. “Job qualifications have an enormous impact on the economy overall: 1,8 billion Euro of yearly economic growth in Germany is accounted for through IT qualifications. Especially in financially difficult times, an investment needs to be made into the future and the competitiveness of Germany as a business location. This means also investing in well educated workers and graduates,” says Achim Berg, General Manager of Microsoft Germany, and Chairman of the Board of IT Fitness. A core element of the initiative is the IT Fitness test, which can be taken online, and gives participants an overview of their ICT strengths and weaknesses. Based on the test results, interested participants then have the opportunity to choose from a range of free training modules that allow them to gain key ICT competences in various software applications, the use of the Internet as well as basic knowledge about data security and data protection.
Patrick Pahmeyer, aged 26, who participated in the IT Fitness Program “Lehrlinge gehen online“ (apprentices go online) of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), explains: “The IT Fitness education program ‘Lehrlinge gehen online’ was a useful addition to my training as a technician for car mechatronics. To make moving from the car repair shop to customer service as easy as possible for me, I attended trainings to rapidly learn how to use the new programs. I think that any kind of further training improves the chances on the labor market.”
Attesting to the important role of the IT Fitness in raising nationwide awareness about ICT skills for individuals and for Germany’s economy, in 2008 the initiative was recognized with a German Public Relations award and a European Excellence Award for Public Relations. During 2009, the impact and reach of IT Fitness was further expanded with the development of webcast formats to provide accessibility for people with minimal ICT knowledge.
In collaboration with Naunyn Ritze, an NGO focused on migrant youth, a Turkish-language version of the online test has been released, and further translations are being developed. And from 2009, through a partnership with Caritas Germany, a network of 50 training centers will be equipped and trainers trained to provide the necessary e-skills to help marginalized job seekers reintegrate in the workforce.
About IT Fitness
IT Fitness is a cross-sector initiative led by Microsoft and the non-profit organization IT Bildungsnetz (IT Education Net). The major industry partners include the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), CISCO, Deutsche Bahn, State Street, Randstad and the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New media (BITKOM). The initiative also collaborates with the German Federal Employment Agency and NGOs such as the Henry Maske Foundation, Naunyn Ritze and Caritas Germany.
>For more information, please visit www.it-fitness.de