On July 2023, LEADS, a project funded by the Digital Europe Programme, successfully organised and hosted the Expert Roundtables on the GAP between the provision and demand for Advanced Digital Skills (ADS) in Europe. The event featured three engaging roundtable sessions with prominent experts from diverse technology and educational backgrounds.
Empowering Europe’s Digital Future
In the context of an ever-evolving digital landscape, the Expert Roundtables provided an invaluable platform for robust discussions on various facets of Advanced Digital Skills. Key insights emerged from the event, reshaping perspectives on the future of digital skills in Europe.
- Adapting to a Changing Technological Landscape:
With technology becoming increasingly accessible to a wider audience, the event emphasised the need for a more diverse pool of skilled professionals. While specialised experts with full theoretical knowledge remain important, the focus must shift towards equipping a broader range of individuals with adaptable skill sets to meet evolving demands.
- Projected Surge in Demand for Advanced Digital Skills:
LEADS’ comprehensive skills mapping efforts, involving an assessment of over 303,000 courses, revealed a significant gap between the current supply of ADS professionals and the projected demand. Experts estimate a need for between 3.5 to 15 million new ADS professionals to meet the high-growth gap that exists between the available workforce (currently 9 million employed) and future demand.
- Paving the Way for a Continuum of Skills:
The emergence of “tech virgins”, particularly in Cloud, Edge, and IoT technologies, has created a continuum that spans across all tech areas. This phenomenon is expected to significantly impact the future roles and skill requirements across various sectors.
- Strategic Approach to Upskilling and Reskilling:
Companies are adopting a mixed approach to address the demand for ADS professionals. The strategies include upskilling, reskilling, new hires, and partial outsourcing, ensuring a dynamic talent pipeline.
- Increased Budget for Training and Development:
A positive trend identified during the event was a projected increase of at least 7% in training and development budgets across European organisations over the next two years. This budgetary expansion underscores the growing importance of investing in Advanced Digital Skills.
- Emphasizing Domain Knowledge and Technical Skills:
Experts highlighted the critical role of domain knowledge in enhancing the usefulness and application of technical skills. The integration of domain expertise with technical proficiency was underscored as a key factor in nurturing successful digital professionals.
LEADS Consortium’s Mission Towards a Skillful Future
During the event, Nuria De Lama, a representative from the LEADS Consortium, provided an illuminating introduction to the project’s mission of providing recommendations on future skills coverage to policymakers, European industries and education providers. Brendan Rowan, Lead Coordinator of LEADS, presented the project’s innovative approach of mapping ADS skills pockets and crafting market scenarios to address future demand effectively.
The Expert Roundtables on the GAP between the provision and demand for Advanced Digital Skills in Europe demonstrated LEADS’ unwavering commitment to shaping a skilled, agile, and future-ready workforce to lead Europe’s digital transformation.
The three roundtable sessions
The first roundtable session delved into quantifying the demand for various ADS and analysing the current skills offerings. The discussion centred around validating the gap across different technology areas, exploring challenges, technology convergence, and the impact of digital transformation on various sectors. The contributing experts included:
- Prof. Edward Curry, Director of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at the University of Galway.
- Daniel Iglesias Gonsálvez, Lead data scientist Tourism of Tomorrow Lab (NECSTouR).
- Jesús Contreras, Node Director of EIT Digital Spain.
- Daniel Sáez, Technology Transfer Director at ITI (Instituto Tecnológico de Informática), President GAIA-X Spain.
The second roundtable focused on finding the right balance between Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Education and Training (VET) to ensure an adequate supply of ADS professionals. Experts discussed which skills are best suited for HE and which align better with VET. The panel consisted of:
- Lewis Purser, Director of Teaching & Learning and Academic Affairs, Irish Universities Association.
- Breda O’Toole, Head of Talent Transformation & Innovation at IDA Ireland.
- Dimitris Panopoulos, Head of the Labour Market Analysis Unit, Greece.
The third roundtable tackled the strategic aspect of investing smartly in ADS. Participants explored scalable activities, identified potential barriers, and discussed rules that could hinder Europe’s ability to design appropriate skills pathways. The contributing experts were:
- Angel Herranz, CTO Coowry.
- Eduardo Vendrel, Former president of the European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education Technical University of Valencia.
- Ane Iturzaeta, Cloud Solution Architect (Data&AI), Microsoft.
For those who missed the event, recordings will be made available soon through LEADS’ social media channels and website, ensuring broader access to the discussions and interactions.