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Tackling the ICT skills shortage in the EU.

Richard Bruton TD Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Minister Joan Burton TD, Minister for Social Protection Bruton co-chaired an EU members 2 day Informal Employment and Social Policy Council event in Dublin today with Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD.

The Employment Ministers have agreed that ensuring adequate skills supply needed to fill the vacancies in the ICT sector will be a crucial part of growing jobs in the EU. Also discussed were lessons from national initiatives taken in the ICT skills area, as well as specific case studies including measures taken in Ireland under the ICT Action Plan jointly launched by Minister Bruton with Minister Quinn in January 2012 as part of the Action Plan for Jobs.

It is estimated that there will be up to 700,000 unfilled vacancies in the EU by 2015, despite the expected growth rate of 7.6%, around double the average, in ICT jobs in the EU over the next 10 years.

“Reflecting our domestic priorities, the Irish Government has identified job-creation as a top priority during our Presidency of the Council of the EU,” said Minister Bruton. “In recent years through the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work initiatives we have made significant changes to the Irish economy to support job-creation. Many of the challenges we have faced in Ireland are common across the EU, such as for example the ICT skills gap.

“Skills mismatches in the EU have increased markedly during the crisis. We need to strengthen cooperation on existing Community policies, instruments and processes so as to enable Member States to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their national skills systems, benchmark them internationally and develop policies to transform better skills into better jobs.”

Minister Bruton has said that he intends to take forward the deliberations from the workshop to the launch of a Grand Coalition for digital jobs in Brussels on 4 March, at which he has been invited to deliver a key note address. The Grand Coalition will involve the four Commissioners responsible for Employment, the Digital Agenda, Education, and Enterprise in a multi-stakeholder partnership seeking to reduce the gap between supply and demand for ICT practitioners in Europe. This ensures that the conclusions of this workshop have an immediate audience and path forward for action.