23 Jan 2014   |   News

New Microsoft centre in Brussels aims to help to close ICT skills gap

Microsoft opened the doors of a new training centre in Brussels, which it says will both help to bridge the ICT skills gap reduce youth employment in Europe


Speaking at the launch of the centre this week, Brad Smith, Executive Vice President for Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, said the company is committed to participating in the development of skills for the ICT sector and pointed to the increasing number of ICT positions that remain unfilled.

Between 2006 and 2010 there was a 10 per cent fall in the number of ICT graduates across Europe – and this at a time when youth unemployment was increasing rapidly. It is estimated that by 2015 there will be over 900,000 unfilled vacancies in the European ICT sector. 

Andrew Wyckoff, Director of OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, highlighted the ever-increasing gap between the skills that the workforce possesses and the skills required. “OECD survey data show that the majority of Europeans lack basic computer science skills, and this is a sign that countries are not ready for the effect of technology on jobs” he said. 

Indeed, poor computer literacy is endemic all over the world, Smith noted, saying, “Governments together with the private sector need to invest in the development of digital skills, and prepare citizens for the jobs of the future.” 

Microsoft already organises summer schools in Brussels to provide training in computer science and entrepreneurship, including the  EU Coding Camp and Leadership and Entrepreneurship Camp.  In addition, the company announced it will continue its YouthSpark ICT and entrepreneurship development programme, and that by 2016, it will double the number of paid internships and apprenticeships in Europe, to 9000.

Speaking via webcast, the EU President Jose Manuel Barosso welcomed the opening of the new centre. The EU needs the support of the private sector to drive research and innovation, Barosso said.

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