EU may miss out on e-commerce

Companies in the UK and across the EU risk missing the e-commerce boat
because of the serious shortage of people with IT skills, Microsoft told a
skills conference in Brussels last week.

E-commerce is predicted to boost the EU’s total revenue by 1.5 per cent in
the next two years, it said. But this will only happen if an extra 1.7 million
IT professionals are brought on stream, research by Microsoft and IDCfound. The
UK alone will need 330,000 more people.

Microsoft is calling for a number of urgent measures to close the growing
gap between supply and demand. It wants employers to do more to tap into
alternative labour pools such as mid-life career changers and the unemployed.

More collaboration between employers and colleges is needed to ensure
training is matched to market needs.

Governments should provide tax breaks for IT training and fund more
scholarships, chairman of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa Bernard
Vergnes told the Technology and Training Summit on 7 March.

Skills manager at Microsoft UK Claire Curtis told Personnel Today that
preoccupation with the millennium bug meant IT staff were not trained in
advance in e-commerce skills. "Now the millennium period is over, the
e-commerce boom has arrived. Employers want to get their businesses on the web
but cannot find the people to do it," she said.

She added that there are pockets of activity around Europe but a
"concerted effort" by government, academia and industry is needed to
stop the problem spiralling out of control.

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