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Grand Coalition launched with backing from industry Giants

News   •   Mar 08, 2013 12:46 GMT

  • UKITA supports Grand Coalition aims to close the skills gap
  • EU’s competitiveness “under threat” if expertise gap not closed
  • IT Giants signed up to help, if SME voice being heard?

The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs was formally launched on 4th March.  European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called on Europe's digital businesses, governments, training and education sectors to address the issue of 900,000 job vacancies that are expected to be unfilled in the IT Sector by 2015.

The gap is expected to widen, as 100,000 new positions are expected to be created each year at the same time as some professionals retire or leave the sector and the number of IT graduates is falling. The figure is even more remarkable when you consider that the EU has 26 million people unemployed.

Launching the Grand Coalition President Barroso said: "The Grand Coalition we launch today is an essential part of getting Europe's economy back on track and finding jobs for some of Europe's 26 million unemployed. I applaud those companies who have signed up today. If, together, we can turn the tide and fill the growing number of ICT vacancies, we will see a much wider impact across the whole economy. We want to empower Europeans to fill the jobs that will drive the next ICT revolution."

During the launch the Commission declared that they will be putting €1 million (£860,000) into funding projects within the Grand Coalition, and they have highlighted the support for the project with Google promising to provide 15,000 free computers to schools so that children can learn programming, Cisco pledging to train 100,000 people to install smart meters and Telefonica committing to investment in start-ups.

Neeli Kroes, the European Commission Vice-President in charge of the Digital Agenda, wants companies to take more responsibility in tackling the skills gap, saying: “This coalition is not about reinventing the wheel. It should be about building on existing success, I want people to be open in their commitments, join forces where they see the chance, and recognise we need to do things differently.”

In addition to encouraging companies to take more responsibility for IT training Ms Kroes included proposals to simplify the certification system and to introduce a type of skills passport that makes it easy for employers to see what skills graduates possess, regardless of where in the UK they originate.

The last proposal will be particularly welcome to recruiters from outside of the IT industry who may struggle to know what skills exactly an IT graduate may possess.

The news that the Grand Coalition is addressing the very pressing issue of the IT skills gap is welcome news for the UK IT Association and all in the IT sector and , but it remains to be seen whether adequate support  will be given to IT SME sector which still provides employment for over 90% of the UK’s IT workforce. Join with UKITA to ensure that IT SME's have a united voice.