ICT specialist: Europe’s south has lost its speed in developing technology

E-skils

Yannis Sirros

This article is part of our special report eSkills for Growth.

SPECIAL REPORT / Europe must get ready to adjust its economy to the digital era in order to boost its competitiveness, says Yannis Sirros.

Yannis Sirros is the director general at the Hellenic ICT enterprises (SEPE). He spoke to EURACTIV Greece’s Sarantis Michalopoulos at the conference “E-Skills for Jobs 2014 Grand Event: Mobilising to Support Job Creation and Upskilling the Workforce” in Athens, Greece, on May 6.

What’s main the objective of today’s conference?

Today (6 May) in Athens we launched the campaign “e-Skills for jobs 2014”, due to take place in 30 countries which aims at helping jobless people find the necessary tools to get access to the labour market. We want to help them comprehend the value of technology and follow a career and engage in studies in technology fields.

We also need to help SMEs see how they can benefit from new technologies. The campaign is addressing citizens, consumers and SMEs, regardless of age and gender. It is part of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs and Training, a European initiative that was launched in March 2013 by the European Commission.

Today in Greece, we also signed the National Coalition for Digital Economy, with the collaboration of three ministries, three general secretaries and the Federation of Hellenic ICT Enterprises. Our main objective is to find the proper tools, actions and initiatives in order to help both the unemployed and young people improve their technology skills.

Do you notice a kind of “migration” in the ICT sector from southern to northern Europe?

At the moment, there are 100,000 vacancies created in the field of digital technology annually. In addition, it is estimated that by 2020, this number will reach 900, 000 vacancies.

This happens for two reasons. First and foremost, we have 6.5% less graduates from technology sectors (STEM- science technology engineering and mathematics) and secondly, the European south is hit by the crisis, and has decreased its speed in the development of technology compared to Northern Europe.

Therefore, the jobs that are being produced by northern Europe can, via outsourcing services and service-level agreement (SLA), create collaboration with southern Europe, in order to ensure a competitive Europe with innovative services and products. E-skills For Jobs 2014 moves in this direction.

How would you describe the situation of the ICT sector in Greece?

There are two situations. The first situation is about the citizens and the second is about the professionals. The situation for the citizens is that they use the Internet, have access to information and use the computer on an everyday basis, but it is below the EU average. On the contrary, the professionals in ICT sector are at a pretty high level. They have special skills and they are part of several sectors of the Greek industry, not only the high-tech one.

Another positive element of the Greek professionals in the ICT sector is the fact that they are in the top 10 of engineers on a global level. In a recent report published by the World Economic Forum (November 2013), Greece ranked seven out of 148 countries in the availability of scientists and engineers.

Now the question is how we will help these people, in order to provide them with the necessary tools to stay in Greece, to create, to be innovative and not to leave the country.

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