Solving the great European tech skills shortage

While there is no shortage of tech jobs in Europe, there is a growing IT skills gap.

To close it and simultaneously up the supply of capable technology professionals, do we need to revisit our approach to where and how we train and employ professionals and get more women on board?

Approximately 870,000 tech and digital job vacancies were available in the UK alone between January to May 2022 - the highest in 10 years, with similar demand for technology skills arising across the globe. However, Eurostat showed that 55% of companies struggled to fill their ICT vacancies.

The skills gap has considerable ramifications for Europe as a whole - McKinsey shows that Europe is lagging behind global leaders in most growth-enabling technologies such as applied AI and distributed infrastructure. If this continues, it will have a knock-on effect on future investment on the continent.

The looming recession will only further serve to increase the chasm between the supply and demand of tech professionals, for digitalisation tends to underpin initiatives to cut costs and increase efficiency. As economic difficulties increase, companies that fold or cut jobs will release a new wave of unemployed jobseekers who will need to find new opportunities, perhaps by reskilling for work in the technology sector.

Incorporating soft skills to ensure readiness for work

Government initiatives to boost ICT skills may serve to increase the number of IT professionals available in the market but the main issue isn’t the availability of training provision: a 2021 report by European Software Skills Alliance (ESSA) about the current and future needs for software skills and professionals in Europe found ‘no shortage of supply in training of the most relevant software skills (e.g.programming languages)’.

Examining the nature of the skills developed, the pool of people engaging in ICT training and the relationship between training providers, learners and employers, the report points to a mismatch between the skills produced with those sought by businesses, who are seeking soft skills in addition to ‘hard’ technical skills. Current training that develops sought-after soft skills including critical thinking, problem solving and self-management within ICT-oriented programmes, is generally limited. Companies want technically competent employees who are rounded individuals and add to the company culture, communicate and collaborate with people across the business and within their teams.

In our case, we’re on track to train 15,000 - 20,000 individuals per year. Students graduating from our courses receive access to mentoring, hard and soft skills - plus, a job at the end. Working with companies that need tech workers also enables us to tailor our training specifically to align with the needs of real businesses.

Flexible working patterns open the door to more female techies

The female demographic has traditionally been underrepresented in IT and is an untapped candidate pool. According to WEF, not only does IT have some of the lowest female participation, it is an industry where women are hard to recruit. Concurrently, the job sectors where women currently dominate are those in decline (Office and Administrative, and Manufacturing and Production).

Traditionally, women more than men, especially those with childcare/carer responsibilities, require work that is flexible. Fortunately many tech and IT roles can be carried out remotely and adapted to afford flexibility. Plus, arguably, responsibilities such as childcare and caring can organically foster certain soft skills development.

Interestingly, some central European countries seem to be succeeding at growing the number of women in their IT workforce. Romania has only 2.4% of its workforce in the ICT sector with 26.2% of those specialist roles filled by women, similarly Greece (2.0% ICT jobs, 26.5% women) and Bulgaria (3% ICT jobs, 28.2% women) - a stark contrast with only 15.5% of women in the ICT sector across Europe as a whole.

Central Europe is also a growing hub from which to recruit a young and ambitious IT workforce. Nearshoring to support existing teams or create entirely new teams to central European countries offers an attractive opportunity for businesses. It enables them to benefit from often English-speaking, cost-competitive employees in similar time zones to them and whose countries sometimes offer tax incentives for their employment.

While we consider the skills gap, it is worth noting the European Commission’s Digital Decade program which aims to employ 20 million ICT specialists by 2030, consisting of an equal proportion of men and women. Conscious efforts to innovate tech and IT training to better fit companies’ needs; initiatives to close the gender gap and explore alternative markets to recruit from are essential keys to solving the problem.

About the authors

József Boda, CEO of Codecool and Michał Mysiak, CEO of Software Development Academy explore the challenges facing Europeans as a result of the ever-widening IT skills gaps and potential solutions.

Sources:

[1] https://technation.io/news/uk-tech-jobs-people-skills-report-2022/

[2] Over the course of 2019, Digital Skills and Jobs Platform, EU

[3] The Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum

[4] Needs Analysis Draft Report I Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills, ESSA

[5] Needs Analysis Draft Report I Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills, ESSA


Making, not breaking, the new girl code: Young women get the job done with inventive mobile applications

Bita Milanian, Senior Vice President Marketing Communications at GENBAND, shares why she is in support of non-profit DIY Girls, which encourages young girls to code.

Who says girls can't code? I say, let's lose the saying "throw like a girl" and replace it with "code like a girl."

One of the coolest, technology-focused non-profits I've come across recently is the DIY "Do-It-Yourself” Girls. This organisation's mission is to "increase girls’ interest and success in technology, engineering and making through innovative educational experiences and mentor relationships."DIY girls 1

This is a really great initiative. Women in technology are still outnumbered by men, even though we have so many amazing women driving software, mobile, and computing companies. Additionally, salaries for women vs. men in the technology field continue to fall way behind as they do in many industries, however one holds out hope that in the most modern fields there would be more natural equality.

Not only do the girls and young women in the DIY Girls world work on coding and software, they also work in the areas of hardware and emerging fields of 3D printing and interactive textiles using conductive ink technologies.

Since starting up in 2012 in Los Angeles, DIY Girls has:

  • Served nearly 400 girls through programs and workshops
  • Taken 103 5th grade girls through afterschool programs
  • Welcomed over 1,000 women to its Meetup group
  • Won Startup Weekend Edu in LA

Their "Fifth Grade" program was sponsored this year by the California Endowment with a special project asking the girls to design and build interactive games and exhibits that address community health issues. If you want to be truly inspired today, check out their blog on the results.DIY girls 2

My personal favorite from the many creative ideas the girls came up with is "Wheelchair 2.0." Wheelchair 2.0 gives people who can't walk a comfortable, fun and fashionable way to get around. This wheelchair features massage capabilities, a fan and storage. It is fashionable and even lights up when you are traveling at night, and above all makes you feel special, which is important for a person who has lost their ability to walk.

You can support DIYGirls through donations, volunteering, and programs and, for the grown up girls among us, you can join their MeetUp group if you happen to be in the LA area.

I look forward to personally meeting and mentoring DIYGirls and have signed up to spend three hours volunteering at a workshop since I'm an LA resident, and am looking forward to learning at least as much as I can teach - these girls sound amazing!