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Commission issues action call in Davos - with IT sector and telecoms companies - to close digital skills and jobs gap in Europe

Brussels, 25 January 2013

Europe faces up to 700.000 unfilled ICT jobs and declining competitiveness. The number
of digital jobs is growing – by 3% each year during the crisis – but the number of new ICT
graduates and other skilled ICT workers is shrinking. Our youth need actions not words,
and companies operating in Europe need the right people or they will move operations

Today, the Commission is issuing a call to action to companies, governments, educators,
social partners, employment service providers and civil society to join us in a massive
effort to "turn the tide". Young Europeans should have the tools to enter digital careers or
to create jobs as entrepreneurs.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "The digital skills gap is growing,
like our unemployment queues. We need joint action between governments and
companies to bridge that gap. The ICT sector is the new backbone of Europe's economy,
and together we can prevent a lost generation and an uncompetitive Europe. So I am
expecting concrete pledges by companies, everyone I meet will be getting the same
request. The Commission will do its bit but we can't do it alone – companies, social
partners and education players – including at national and regional level - have to stand
with us."

The Commission will collect pledges on new jobs, internships, training places, start-up
funding, free online university courses and more. Companies such as Nokia, Telefónica,
SAP, Cisco, HP, Alcatel-Lucent, Randstad, ENI, Telenor Group, ARM, as well as the CIO
community, CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) and Digital
Europe are in the first wave of those committing to act. On 4-5 March the Commission will
include pledges received from partners and build them into the launch of a Grand Coalition
for Digital Skills and Jobs at a major pledging conference. The conference is open to all
who want to actively support this common cause.

We seek active collaboration in areas like industry-led training, assisting labour mobility,
certifying skills, improving school and university curricula, raising awareness, and creating
an entrepreneur friendly environment for start-ups.

One concrete area for action could be training vouchers. Successful German and Spanish
voucher based training models provided jobs for 60-70% of the 20,000 participants and
we should seek to replicate and scale up this idea on a European scale.

Other key elements of the Coalition will include mobility assistance. Such assistance is
likely to range from English language learning support to facilitating mobility for
unemployed persons and standardised certification of skills, via a transformed
eCompetence Framework available in all 23 official languages of the EU.

In recognition of the job creation potential of web start-ups, the Commission is also
launching Startup Europe, a single platform for tools and programmes supporting people
wanting to set up and grow web start-ups in Europe.

For more information
Hashtag: #digitalskills
Digital Agenda website
Neelie Kroes' website
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter

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