The European Commission has sealed the deal with a coalition of technology companies in an effort to help fill up to 700,000 technology related jobs in the region.
In a statement today, European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that as the number of digital jobs grows by roughly 3 percent each year, the number of new IT-related graduates and other skilled workers is "shrinking."
But in many cases, technology-related jobs have been difficult to fill because for either the skills are not there or the qualifications are not recognized—or simply because the applicant doesn't know English.
It's about time to join in a "massive effort to 'turn the tide'," she said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The companies include computing giant HP, European cellular network Telefonica, phone maker Nokia, networking firm Cisco, and British chip-designer ARM, among others.
On March 4—5, the Commission will include more pledges from partners and launch them into a Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs at a significant pledging conference, the EU said, which will further seek active collaboration, such as creating an entrepreneur friendly environment for start-ups and improving school and university curricula.
Kroes added to her prepared comments:
The digital skills gap is growing, like our unemployment queues. We need joint action between governments and companies to bridge that gap. The ICT sector is the new backbone of Europe's economy, and together we can prevent a lost generation and an uncompetitive Europe.
So I am expecting concrete pledges by companies, everyone I meet will be getting the same request. The Commission will do its bit but we can't do it alone — companies, social partners and education players — including at national and regional level - have to stand with us.
Other elements to the Coalition—a bit of a tough word to swallow in Europe at the moment—will include mobility assistance, such as English language learning support to helping to standardize certifications of skills.
Spain-based Telefonica noted in its own press release today that it aims to help "close the digital skills deficit in Europe" by pledging to meet its 2015 targets, such as create more than 1,000 start-up firms through its academies in Europe, and to and to build a community of more than 300,000 young people working to "build a more entrepreneurial Europe," among other things.
The Spanish cellular network, which also owns U.K.-based cellular network O2, said it also plans to recruit 1,400 interns, apprentices and graduates into its own business.