EC acts to close hi-tech skills gap with the US

This week’s international news in brief

• The European Commission has launched a strategy to narrow the hi-tech
skills gap between Europe and the US. It issued a frank admission that
"the next generation of workers could lack the necessary skills to meet
the demands of the knowledge economy". It estimates that the number of
unfilled job vacancies in the information sector could reach 1.6 million by
2002, even though there is still high unemployment in the EU. In 2010, half of
all jobs will be either major producers or users of IT products and services,
such as e-commerce, the commission anticipates.

The report calls on member state governments to:

• Link all schools to the Internet by 2002.

• Provide all employees with access to learn information skills.

• Adapt equipment to improve the employability of people with disabilities.

• Introduce tax regimes which encourage start-up companies

US staff feel bitter wind of stock market falls

• Stock market declines have exposed the risks of increasing employee share
ownership, reports from the US reveal. Food giant Kellogg has seen its stock
fall 45 per cent since October 18, and some of its employees have put their
entire savings into shares in the company. At the Union Pacific Railroad, staff
have seen savings drop by a similar amount. A report by the Society for Human
Resource Management indicates that some staff feel disillusioned with the
exercise but others say staff share ownership is a stimulus to help turn the
company around. An estimated one-third of US households own some type of
equity, according to trade group the Securities Industry Association. The most
common form of stock is held in the company for which the individual works.

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