ICT workforce increase in Europe – e-skills policy created the right framework conditions

The supply of freshly trained computer scientists has been slowly decreasing from 2007. In 2012 114,000 Computer Science first degrees were awarded. At the same time, the ICT workforce was growing and the labour market absorbed an increasing number of new entrants, from 182,000 in 2007 – the year when the European Commission launched the ‘e-Skills Communication’ - to 277,000 in 2012. This shows that the increasing shortage of academically trained ICT workers could be bridged through other ways of training and e-skills development.

These are likely to include in-house training activities in companies, skill development through industry-based training and certification, extra-curriculum programmes and courses of universities, business schools and academies to name just a few. It remains open how much of this positive development can be attributed to European and national policy activities including the above e-Skills Communication of the European Commission asking Member States to develop national e-skills strategies but these definitely create the right framework conditions and the necessary climate for change. However, interest in pursuing ICT careers seems to be diminishing among younger generations. The number of computer science graduates was growing in the past, but has been in continuous decline in Europe since 2005. Even more, the speed of decline is what makes the situation rather dramatic. The effect of the decrease in the number of entrants to the ICT workforce is intensified in Europe by an increasing number of exits as ICT practitioners leave the workforce. We can calculate retirement figures of ICT practitioners with high levels of certainty. Together with the decline in ICT graduates figures it is likely that e-skills excess demand will increase rather significantly. The bottom line is: Europe is not ‘producing’ sufficient numbers of ICT graduates to satisfy the demand. The figures show that the supply of freshly trained computer scientists has been slowly decreasing from 2007. In 2012 114,000 Computer Science first degrees were awarded.

At the same time, the labour market absorbed an increasing number of new entrants, from 182,000 in 2007 to 277,000 in 2012. This figure is only covering core ICT practitioner jobs (ISCO-08 250 and 351 for which statistical data over longer periods of time is available).
Obviously, an increasing gap of academically trained workers could be bridged by employing other entrants, hinting at a rather healthy life-long learning and qualification eco-system, something the European Commission put forward in its e-Skills Communication of 2007 which seems to show first successes since 2010.

Contractor

A service contract has been awarded in December 2013 by the European Commission to a consortium led by empirica to undertake this work.

The event is supported by the EC in the scope of the service contract to promote e-leadership in Europe (LEAD)