Digital skills gap in Europe: Training people for the future

Nabila Salem, President of Revolent Group, discusses how training people for the future can help fill the digital skills gap in Europe

Many industries that Europe traditionally depended on have declined or become stagnated. However, over the last decade, there has been a 1,200% increase in $1 billion+ tech companies. With the growth of the software industry dramatically outpacing the rest of the markets, the EU has seen a record-breaking €113 billion boost in its economy thanks to venture capital funding from Europe’s top tech IPOs. In addition to contributing an annual €400 billion to their economy, the European tech sector has powered job creation across the continent—producing nearly four times the job growth rate of the general economy.

Europe’s tech talent pools is expanding fast, with 43 out of 44 countries in Europe seeing a growth in their tech workforce at the end of 2019. This is down to a healthy increase in tech professionals and the ecosystem’s ability to attract candidates from other sectors.

The growth in European tech seems like a promising solution to the global digital skills gap; however, its budding tech workforce is not equally distributed, with some areas growing faster than others. Smaller countries, where the tech ecosystem is still relatively nascent, still struggle to fill roles more regularly compared to larger countries like Germany, France, and the UK, which have the strength of multiple big cities to distribute its tech talent more evenly.

Although the evolution of cloud computing and remote working allows emerging tech hubs to widen their candidate net to a global scale, they still have a responsibility to support home-grown talent and their country’s economy by investing in local training opportunities.

Establishing training programmes in developing tech regions can broaden the talent pool and open up opportunities to less tech-savvy communities that may lack training in comprehensive digital skillsets; skillsets that are vital for a country’s infrastructure and economic development.

The benefit of training local talent

Well-trained native employees are significantly more valuable to a business in terms of language skills, cultural knowledge, and economic stability. Plus, local staff also have closer communities ties, enabling expanding business to establish a more authentic brand presence in the territories they operate in.

In addition to improving brand presence, statistics have shown that staff retention rates tend to be higher for local talent in developing areas. Often, because of limited job opportunities, local workforces appreciate companies who have economically invested in them, making them a more loyal employee, and saving businesses thousands in recruitment costs.

Initiatives investing in local regions

The European Union has launched a digital skills and jobs coalition to help tackle the skill gap across the continent. Its initiatives range from training unemployed people, providing online courses, offering coding classes for children, and creating cutting edge training for IT specialists.

All organisations, from local tech start-ups to international enterprises, can become members of the collation. The EU commission rewards any company that demonstrates an excellent initiative to help improve the digital skills of citizens and improve the local tech labour force. They’re also piloting ‘The Digital Opportunity’ training scheme for students and recent graduates to have hands-on training in digital fields such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, coding, and digital marketing.

As well as the governmental scheme, many global tech leaders have established their own initiatives. Programmes such as Amazon’s re/Start, Salesforce’s Trailhead Academy, and Revolent, are taking action by developing bespoke training opportunities and creating new talent.

How to invest local tech talent

If you’re looking for candidates, consider getting involved with local schools and universities to attract new talent, or invest in your existing staff members.

Our recent report shows that most employees would like to receive an allowance for a formalised training plan on new technologies, such as cloud platforms. Investing the time to nurture talent is becoming a vital aspect of resolving the digital skills gap, and modern companies cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity.

To ensure you provide the right training for your employees, take the time to understand where their skills gaps lie and make that your top priority. Once their training is complete, offer your employees the chance to apply their new skills to projects that can help them retain their knowledge, while still adding value to your business.

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