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.