A new report on IT professionalism in Europe represents a major milestone contributing to the ambition to strengthen and mature the IT profession and increase EU’s digital talent pool. It provides a first comprehensive proposal for an EU framework for IT professionalism, building on the support from industry, education and training. It is aiming at contributing to further deliver on the potential of the Digital Single Market strategy and improve the EU’s position on a competitive IT talent market.
The employment of ICT specialists has grown by around 2 million in the EU over last 10 years, but the European Union is facing a shortage of 370,000 in 2016 which is likely to grow up to 500,000 in 2020 as the demand for highly-skilled ICT professionals is exceeding supply in the years to come. In the scope of our work we have identified a subgroup of IT specialists – which we believe will be very important in the future. We focus on this narrower set of occupations , namely the “core IT profession”, and present a view of the IT professional skills demand and supply picture, which is in line with the creation of an EU Framework for IT Professionalism.
Our latest research shows that the skills gap in the EU is growing slightly from 3.2% in 2015 to 3.5% in 2020 [equalling a shortage of around 220.000 core IT professionals] with Germany (5.5%) and France (7.0%) confronted with an even bigger challenge. Countries all over the world are also stepping up their efforts to increase the number of IT professionals. The US shows a similar pattern compared to the EU with a skills gap growing with 0.7 percentage points to 3.7% in 2020 (US). Canada sees a slight decrease of the gap: with from 7.0% to 6.8% in 2020. Japan on the other hand is currently not seeing a large gap in skills, but this will change significantly in the years ahead. The gap would increase from 2.2% to 8.7% in 2020, leaving a real risk that the lack of skills for new digital technologies can hold back adoption and thereby also business opportunities and economic growth .
The quantity of IT professionals is surely not the only challenge. It’s also very much about quality.
As we enter a new wave of pervasive computing the extent to which IT is embedded in our economy and society is growing fast and creating huge opportunities and new challenges. Add critical issues such as insufficient public perception of IT education, jobs and careers, increasing cyber criminality, software vulnerabilities and IT projects’ failures – and as such, the call for action is clear.
The IT profession is relatively young and unstructured, compared for example to medicine. Maturing a profession is taking time. Obtaining status and professional recognition requires professional bodies to set appropriate standards of knowledge, qualifications, certifications and codes of conduct. For IT, the time for engagement and action is now. If we collectively fail to take decisive steps to strengthen the IT profession, risks may grow to unacceptable levels.
This proposal for an EU framework for IT professionalism is building on important previous work and the state-of-the-art at national and international level. It is based on the European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) developed by the CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) which is a European standard since 2016. The proposed framework includes not only IT competences (as described in the e-CF), but also other essentials building blocks: a foundational body of knowledge, education and training qualification and certification, and ethical guidelines. Around 1000 experts from all parts of Europe, the US, Japan and Canada, were involved and contributed to this proposal.
Progress and cooperation will be fostered by relevant bodies and communities such as the European standardisation Committee (CEN TC 428 on digital competences and ICT professionalism and CEN Workshop on ICT Skills) and the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition launched by the European Commission on 1 December 2016 as well as supporting recent initiatives launched by stakeholders such as the IT Professionalism Europe (ITPE) network. Further efforts will contribute to strengthen the synergy between IT professionalism and the successful digitisation of organisations (industry, SME’s, public administrations etc.).
The digital transformation of enterprises is enabled both by IT competences and professionalism at individual level and digital organisational capabilities at enterprise level. They are mutually reinforcing. A new initiative was also kicked off in 2017 to develop a digital organisational reference framework to strengthen the capabilities to digitally transform enterprises and SME’s. It will investigate how enterprises, especially SMEs, could benefit from a coordinated approach for the effective adoption of IT professionalism and digital organisational frameworks and to help them take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital technologies. In addition, there will be a conference and workshop on 14 June 2017 in Malta, as well as many more opportunities to participate in the coming year.
For more information about the report and the new initiative, contact Mary Cleary, Irish Computer Society: firstname.lastname@example.org
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