“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” is the famous catchphrase from a funny British comedy show* depicting the everyday life of an 'IT crowd' in a big company.
Information and Communication Technologies can be found now in nearly all economic activities and so ICT-related employment is much higher than just that in the ICT sector. The question here is: do we have enough specialists?
To find out what lies behind Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), what the essence of working in the field of ICT is, what skills are needed and what ICT professionalism is, we had a chat with Jérôme Chomé, Sébastien Jauquet and Pascal Jost, who work for the EPP Group Information and Communication Technology team.
According to Pascal Jost, ICT is just a label: “For example, building a website is like building a house. You need different people, from the architect to the interior designer. And they are all equally important in achieving exactly ‘the house' you were imagining.”
Teaching ICT skills from an early age on
For 20 years there has been constant evolution in the ICT field. It is like a chain: the growing needs of society demand new applications that need new support systems that need to be developed etc. “ICT education should be future-oriented and encourage creativity,” Pascal is convinced.
If we want to stay competitive in this digital market, we need to teach kids how IT stuff works and how to create things Sébastien Jauquet
Jérôme Chomé is of the opinion that children of 6-7 years should already be taught about IT. “For example, the US project-based model of teaching is a good way to learn how to make a connection with real life and find solutions.”
ICT education should be future-oriented and encourage creativity Pascal Jost
“It is important for schools to teach what is behind our technology. Just giving tablets to kids will not make them smarter; it will just make them consumers. We need to go further, every kid can easily use a tablet, tablets can be useful as a support for lessons, but if we want to stay competitive in this digital market, we need to teach them how it works, how IT stuff works and how to create things. This will give them a future in ICT,” stresses Sébastien Jauquet.
Improving conditions for generating more creativity and new ideas
The demand for ICT professionals has been growing year by year. According to a European Commission study, there could be up to 900 000 vacant ICT jobs available in the EU by 2015. The question here is what should be done to better answer these needs?
Sebastien draws attention to the specific nature of the ICT environment – it is in constant change: “In the early days, it was possible for one person to do it all in an SME, but not anymore. Those with technical skills need to find their domain, to be a specialist in their field. Specialists always need to be ‘at the cutting edge’, but especially in IT where the technology evolves so quickly. This is a real challenge for techies, but it is also where it gets interesting.”
Specialists always need to be ‘at the cutting edge’, but especially in IT where the technology evolves so quickly Sébastien Jauquet
“It is a very creative field, you never get bored doing the same thing all your professional life,” adds Pascal.
A better link between high schools, universities and businesses, is essential to improving ICT education. In Europe, we need more creativity and new ideas to be able to compete in the global market. “However, Europe is doing quite well – for example in the Global Innovation Index, many of the EU Member States can be found at the top of the list,” Jérôme points out.
Tapping the full potential that lies in ICT
Essential for the EU is to create a connected Digital Single Market (DSM) that could in the upcoming five years generate up to €250 billion of additional growth.
Yet, there are many obstacles to overcome. For example, removing the remaining legal and fiscal barriers to ensure that both consumers and companies can fully benefit from an SME-driven Digital Single Market.
Another challenge for the Single Digital Market is standardisation. Standards have an important role in multiple areas, such as interoperability, privacy and accessibility, and as a result support market acceptance and the use of ICT tools and services.
You don’t become an ICT professional only by learning at school. You need to engage constantly Jérôme Chomé
With such huge potential in the ICT field, you would imagine crowds breaking down doors to apply for vacant positions. But are they? All three of our ICT professionals agreed that the image of ICT needs also to be improved.
“You don’t become an ICT professional only by learning at school. You need to engage constantly," says Jérôme.
Our schools have to ‘teach how to learn’, and communicate to their students the joy of being multi-skilled. That’s the only way to be successful in ICT and to enjoy a job in a constantly-evolving market Sébastien Jauquet
“When we want to hire people, we usually expose them to a specific part of a project and ask if they can do it. Some say ‘No, I didn’t learn that’ and quit. Others take a deep breath and say ‘Yes’. They probably have no idea at the time how to do it, but they are confident that they have the capacity to adapt and succeed… Our schools have to ‘teach how to learn’, and communicate to their students the joy of being multi-skilled. That’s the only way to be successful in ICT and to enjoy a job in a constantly-evolving market,” said Sébastien.
Ready to embrace the future? We are!
*The IT Crowd