Despite the flagging economy and reports of mass layoffs in the high-tech sector, there are still thousands of unfilled IT positions as European tech innovation continues to be held back by a widening skills gap. There are currently in excess of one million unfilled posts across Europe in the IT sector and this is expected to rise to 1.7 million by 2005. Research conducted by IDC on behalf of industry body CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) showed that the skills gap is at its widest in the networking sector. Steve Gilroy, VP of marketing at CompTIA, said there are far more jobs than suitable applicants available with companies increasingly making their online presence a priority. Gilroy said the skills gap is at its narrowest in data centre and mainframe environments where growth is now flat or falling away. This situation is symptomatic of the overall problem -- specific IT skills have a short shelf life and this year's boom sector will be next year's recessionary area. The reason for this, said Gilroy, is a lack of retraining and a lack of workers coming onto the market with the right skills sets. Unfortunately, this is particularly true in the UK. "In IT there is no such thing as a job for life," said Gilroy. "More and more people need to re-skill every three or four years, but in the UK employers do not pay enough attention to retraining existing staff. Instead they think it is cheaper to go for a quick fix -- taking somebody straight out of college rather than training existing, older, staff who are likely to be on more money." The problem is particular acute in the UK compared to France and Germany where there are different working cultures in place. For example, there are healthy tax incentives made available to companies who retrain staff in those countries. However, while Gilroy blamed a lack of retraining on employers and government, he added that more workers should seize the initiative themselves. He said: "Individuals need to look at their own situation and say 'my employer's not going to sort this out; I need to do something myself.' People renew their car every five years -- why don't they renew themselves."