Published: Wed, 13 September 2017
“Over half a million job vacancies for coders, engineers, and other tech specialists are expected within the EU by 2020, according to the European Commission’s latest assessment. Evidently, there is a large gap between qualifications and labour market needs, particularly with regard to specialists. That’s something we must be mindful of for the next generation,” Seán Kelly MEP said.
However, Ireland’s digital skillset has not increased in the last two years according to MEP Kelly: “The 2017 European Digital Progress Report shows just 44 percent of the Irish population have basic digital skills, below the EU average of 56pc – meaning there has been no improvement recorded in that area over the last two years.”
In terms of human capital, the report ranks Ireland 12th out of the EU28. However, Ireland holds onto first place for the percentage of STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates. Furthermore, the share of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) specialists employed in Ireland remains above the EU average, though it has fallen (3.7pc), resulting in a drop from seventh place to tenth in the EU28 comparison this year.
“In keeping with the European trend, Ireland continues to face shortages of ICT specialists to fill high-level job vacancies. Since 2012, half of all businesses who tried to recruit ICT specialists in Ireland experienced difficulties, according to this latest report,” Mr Kelly underlined. The Ireland South MEP noted the Irish government’s commitment and efforts to boost digital skills in Ireland from primary education upwards. As a long-standing advocate for the Cork-born CoderDojo, a global network of voluntary coding clubs for youth, Mr Kelly believes the project sets a best practice example: “Having founded the CoderDojo Ambassadors initiative at the European Parliament, in conjunction with the non-profit organisation, we have encouraged MEPs to help launch coding clubs in their home countries. The project has also highlighted the enthusiasm amongst Europe’s youth for more connectivity. They want to engage and learn from the latest technologies, but they need access to tutors, equipment and of course internet technologies to do that. We must do our best to provide it,” he said. Overall, Ireland takes eighth place in the 2017 European Digital Progress Report which assesses each Member State based on connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology, and eGovernment.