The e-Skills Manifesto
In spite of current economic and financial turbulences, the transition to a knowledge-based, innovation-driven digital economy is accelerating. The capability of European enterprises to compete and innovate is becoming increasingly dependent on the strategic and efficient use of new information and communication technologies. This new industrial revolution brings a premium to highly-skilled and ICT savvy workers while those with low or inadequate skills are even more vulnerable. As formidable competitors and markets are emerging in the world, industry is increasingly sourcing talents and resources wherever they are available; e-skills are crucial for the competitiveness of Europe as a region.
The crisis has revealed severe weaknesses in our economies and labour markets. At a time when the rate of unemployment exceeds 10% we are still not producing enough e-skilled professionals. To illustrate this, the number of ICT graduates rose constantly until 2005 but since then it has decreased and the percentage of female students remains desperately low. Business leaders warn that we may face severe competitiveness and innovation gaps which will hamper growth in the longer term. We need not only ICT professionals but also leaders, managers and entrepreneurs with e-skills in all professions and all sectors.
Europe remains well-placed to address the challenges ahead.The European Commission has proposed a long term e-skills strategy and a Digital Agenda to address the conditions that need to be met to exploit the potential of ICT. Good progress has been made but this is not enough: we need to accelerate and intensify our efforts. With unemployment hitting record levels and forecasts of a grim economic outlook, the European Commission will come forward with new proposals for a new industrial policy fostering growth in 2012.
This Manifesto encompasses many important ideas from key leaders in government, education, policy, research and industry. It reflects the main components of the e-skills challenge for Europe and provides very useful advice on what needs to be done. I am deeply grateful to them for sharing their wisdom, expertise and energy in contributing to a shared vision and action plan. This Manifesto is a call for action by all of us.
Vice-President of the European Commission Responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship