The Fluid Society

TaskForce E-skills final report

At the request of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, I chaired the TaskForce E-Skills for the past year and a half ( )

The founding of the TaskForce was prompted by a European study that showed that Europe and the Netherlands are increasingly lacking much-needed IT knowledge and skills, the so-called e-skills. Not only among disadvantaged groups such as the low-skilled and the elderly, but also among professionals. At European level, the necessary details had been resolved, but it was unclear whether the Netherlands corresponded to the general European picture.

The results were shocking. Depending on the economic growth scenario, there will be a shortage in the Netherlands in 2015 of 27,000 to 43,000 IT professionals out of a total of 350,000 to 400,000 IT professionals. However, the 7 to 12 percent deficit was not the only problem; there is also a gap and training mismatch between supply and demand. In addition to international project leaders, there is mainly a need for highly trained people for fairly new positions such as enterprise architect, security officer, demand and sourcing manager and business analyst. However, most IT courses are rather technical in nature and often not at the right level.

Key vacancies

Research among CIOs shows that many large companies fail to fill key vacancies in the aforementioned areas, as a result of which projects stagnate or cannot even be started. Elsevier recently published a publication about failed IT projects in the government, which has cost billions to citizens besides a lot of inconvenience. A striking example of mismanagement due to a lack of the right expertise, especially at the higher levels. This is in striking contrast to the desire to be an innovative knowledge economy.

What now? First of all, ensure that the right e-skills are available in the nine recently appointed innovative top sectors (water, agri-food, horticulture, high-tech, life sciences, chemistry, energy, logistics and creative industry). After all, anyone who talks about innovation needs the latest IT knowledge to achieve the requested innovation. But there’s more. The Netherlands should be much better aligned with European developments, but unfortunately has the tendency to invent the wheel itself, with its back to Europe. This means that the boat is in danger of being missed.

Advice E-skills Council

Clear European policy in the field of cloud, security and e-skills are of great importance for the Netherlands and for the large internationally operating companies. Developing international IT competency schemes, more unambiguous definitions of functions, good European training certificates for IT key positions are of great importance for improving professionalism on the demand side of the IT market. Finally, the subject of e-skills should remain permanently on the agenda, for which an Advisory Council for E-skills should be appointed. After all, education, politics, but also business must be constantly challenged to pay attention to this.

The Ministry of EL&I has already indicated that it will take over the majority of the recommendations in the new Dutch Digital Agenda. Then the execution follows …

Postscript July 2018: nothing has happened with the above recommendations and the shortages of (highly educated) ICT people are now higher than ever. The Boston Consulting Group already states in 2017 ( Heb-we-54000-icters-te-weinig/) a shortage of 54,000 IT professionals to be expected in 2020 , fully in accordance with the above report. It is a mystery to me why politicians completely ignore this.

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