It is no secret that that Europe suffers from a digital skills gap. Today’s HR professionals across Europe are often faced with a paradox: while the number of mobile workers and the pool of potential candidates residing in other countries have grown during the last years, it remains difficult to fill ICT vacancies. The most recent data reveal that almost 40% of companies seeking to recruit ICT professionals in Europe report difficulties in finding skilled practitioners. There are two explanations for this. On one hand, Europe is not producing enough ICT graduates. On the other, competence mismatches are rampant. The ongoing digitalisation of Europe’s economy is bringing about profound changes in working conditions and traditional job dynamics. Different sets of skills are therefore urgently needed. Yet today only 23% of European ICT professionals have the competences required for their job.
Recruiters and candidates need to speak the “same language”
To remain relevant and competitive organisations operating in Europe must understand the core areas of expertise required by various roles. They must be able to recruit and train suitable employees. There is a need for lifelong learning and continued professional development to enable ICT professionals to develop their careers in an international context. A shared understanding of the capability and competency needs of individuals working in various roles is therefore essential.
The European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) was designed to do just this. It provides a reference of 40 competences that apply to the ICT workplace, at five proficiency levels. The e-CF, a European standard since April 2016, gives clear definitions to support decision-making with regard to the selection and recruitment of candidates, as well as the training and assessment of ICT professionals. It is an ideal tool to support organisations in making informed decisions. It will help an ICT professional job seeker to speak the “same language” with an HR manager in any EU country and describe more precisely and accurately his or her skills and knowledge.
More targeted and effective training
Human resources management systems provide the basis for job evaluation, pay scales and performance management. However they do not necessarily include linkage to training opportunities. Using the e-CF to map education to competences can fundamentally improve the comparability of courses. It serves as a benchmark of competences to reference training programmes, whether they are developed in-house or outsourced. Each competence is built and described with its components and levels. Its modular structure allows for the combination of different competences to develop learning modules. The e-CF can therefore be used to help shape and assess training courses, by providing a methodological approach to identify the competences and skills required within an organisation.
Although the European professional ICT landscape is diverse, with varying levels of maturity, the need to develop adequate tools to recruit and manage ICT staff has never been stronger. This will undeniably take time, but we must act now if we are to take full advantage of the opportunities that ICT can offer.