SAP, Cisco, HP join push to plug Europe's digital skills gap

The IT industry has joined with European law-makers to boost training in ICT it was announced on Monday

Some prominent IT industry players, including SAP, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard, have joined with European lawmakers to boost workforce technology training.

While there are about 26 million people unemployed in Europe, new figures show that there will be up to 900,000 ICT vacancies by 2015. To tackle this, the European Commission has set up a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs.

"Some people still think the Internet kills jobs -- in fact, we've got the opposite problem in Europe. The digital economy is adding 100,000 new jobs a year, but doesn't have enough of the right people in the right places to fill them," said Digital Agenda spokesman Ryan Heath in a statement.

"But we have been collecting hard commitments from companies and education providers to fill in the skills gaps that is emerging in Europe," he added.

More than 15 companies and organizations have already signed up. SAP will launch an online learning platform for young people called Academy Cube as well as a training module for smart grid installers in the energy sector. Telefonica will support 1,000 extra startups through five academies in Europe and Cisco plans to train 100,000 smart meter installers. Hewlett-Packard aims to help up to a million students and professionals with entrepreneurial and technology skills by the end of 2015 through its Life e-learning program.

According to the Commission, the ICT workforce in Europe in 2011 amounted to 6.7 million -- 3.1 percent of the overall workforce. From 2000 to 2010 the ICT workforce grew at an average annual rate of 4.3 percent, but the number of ICT graduates leaving universities has dropped. An aging workforce will also see many senior ICT workers retire in the next few years further increasing the digital skills gap.

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