Published: Wed, 25 May 2016
Irish SMEs are the biggest online sellers in the EU, according to the latest European Digital Progress Report (EDPR) 2016 released this week, Seán Kelly MEP (Ireland South) has confirmed. “32 percent of Irish SMEs, employing 10 or more, are selling online in comparison with the EU average of just 16pc,” Mr Kelly said in Brussels today.
“Irish SMEs are also ranked as the second biggest users of social media in Europe at 35pc (EU average is 18pc). A web presence is essential for any business in this digital age, enabling smaller businesses to sell more and better promote their goods or services.”
Irish businesses are ahead of their EU counterparts in terms of online trade. eCommerce accounts for 19pc of Irish SME turnover (SMEs employing 10-249 persons), above the EU average of 9.4pc.
However, Ireland needs to focus on increasing the digital or ICT skills of its citizens so they have the opportunity to match labour market needs, according to MEP Kelly as just 44pc of the Irish population have basic digital skills – below the EU average of 55pc.
“A 2013 study found there were around 4,500 unfilled ICT vacancies in Ireland. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that there could be up to 825,000 EU-wide ICT vacancies by 2020, because the workforce lacks specialised Information and Communications Technology skills.
“I have previously said we urgently need to increase the opportunities for young people to study and work in ICT, through the mainstreaming of coding and related ICT skills from early school days and via non-formal education like social clubs such as CoderDojo.” Mr Kelly launched the EU CoderDojo Ambassadors scheme in conjunction with Cork-born network of non-profit coding clubs.
A quarter of Irish people have above average digital skills, slightly lower than the EU average (28pc). However, Mr Kelly added that Ireland is in the top four EU countries for producing the most STEM or Science, Technology and Mathematics graduates.
Overall, Ireland is ranked in eighth place in terms of digital progress. Denmark is ranked first, followed by the Netherlands and Sweden. The EDPR analysed country-by-country performance in terms of connectivity, digital usage, eGovernance, technology and eCommerce for 2015.