By 2025, the overall demand of ICT specialists across six European countries will increase to up to 1.67 million workers. The six European countries assessed are facing a shortage of 477,000 ICT specialists at different skills levels. This could increase up to 1.26 million in 2020 and even further beyond. Current education and training systems will not manage to cope with this demand. This represents opportunities to create and scale more inclusive pathways for underrepresented groups and a truly diverse workforce.
Everybody agrees that action is needed to overcome continuously rising ICT skills gaps, which can be observed in the vast majority of European countries. Referring to skills shortages, Prof. Dr. Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD and co-editor of The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2018 report on ‘Diversity for Competitiveness’ expressed the view that “large ICT skills shortages will affect future economic growth. It is an area of huge untapped potential for creating a diverse workforce through specific inclusive ICT training programmes and at the same time help closing the skills gap”. Low-skilled school leavers, workers with outdated skills but also individuals with diverse backgrounds and women present enormous potential to alter and help close the skills gap.
Inclusive training programmes, such as the ones assessed and identified as Good Practice Showcases in the diversITy project already make a difference today. However, there are “too little and too few”. They need to become larger in scale and sustainable in operation. This is a key message of the final report from the diversITy project. The project run by empirica with the support of J.P. Morgan as part of its ‘New Skills at Work’ programme released its results at the ‘Inclusive Opportunities for ICT’ conference which was attended by more than 100 experts from Europe and beyond.
Attending this exchange gave MILMA some very interesting insights and guidance. It highlighted some major topics and issues to be considered in order to become successful in setting up the right partnerships, collaboratively design and deliver inclusive training programmes, offer the right type of mentorship, link these to the formal education and training system and secure sustainable funding. MILMA project has taking note of the following key points for the development of a good inclusive ICT training programme:
- team up with the right partners, specifically from industry as (potential) future employers
- teach transversal skills in addition to technical ICT skills, design and update programmes together with industry
- strongly consider linking to vocational education and training (VET) to make best use of a promising pathway to employment with the chance for their students to obtain a universally recognised formal degree
- closely cooperate with employment agencies and obtain necessary accreditations to be able to secure long-term funding
- developing and using proven, tested and context related strategies to reach the intended target groups
- implement mentorship schemes using role models, decide on whether and how certification can add value
- ensure mentoring programmes are in place since these have proven to be one of the most critical success factors in inclusive ICT training specifically when making use of relatable role models.
However, we are glad to see that most of these key points are already being taken into account by our project as a guidance to become a successful programme. Anyway, meeting other ICT professionals, companies, trainers, organisations and administrations has given us, as a project, the opportunity to share their experience and good practices and to participate of an ICT training network where lessons and stories can be shared amongst this community to ensure inclusive opportunities in ICT.