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Digital Divide Threatens future of EU Employment Opportunities

internetThe internet is something most of us in the UK take for granted. A recent study ranked the United Kingdom as number eight in the U.N’s connectivity table, having overtaken Japan and Hong Kong. South Korea came out on top for the third year in a row, but what about those less fortunate places that are struggling to keep connected?

90% of the planets 1.1 billion households without internet access are based in the developing world, where access is limited and costs are high. The majority of the countries struggling the most were based in Africa. Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, stated that in Mozambique, just one gigabyte of data costs over two months’ salary for the average person.

Left behind

With Europe still reeling from the effects of the recession, some EU countries with higher youth employment are in danger of falling behind as far as the ICT industry is concerned.

Whilst the UK Digital industry is booming, with tech savvy youth cottoning on and embracing the technology with open arms, parts of Europe hit hardest by the recession are getting left out in the cold. Over 5.5 million youngsters are out of work, with places such as Spain, Greece and Croatia exceeding unemployment levels of over 55%.

Without the same level of education and training on ICT skills as places such as the U.K, these countries run the risk of having shortfalls in the digital market of around 900,000 jobs by 2015. This problem cannot be resolved by one country alone, and requires input from stakeholders throughout the EU in order to bring ICT up to the required standard.

Skills needed

It is predicted that by the year 2020, up to 90% of vacancies will require digital skills, so it will be no mean feat to modernize the education system in time to avoid massive shortfalls in prospective candidates. Microsoft has recognized the problem, and in response, joined the EU’S grand coalition which plans to invest efforts into making more opportunities for quality apprenticeships and internships.

They plan to increase the amount of these on offer by 50% over three years. Which is easier said than done, but a definite step in the right direction to solving a problem beyond the control of youths with little or no resources. The EU are hoping that the introduction of satellite broadband will be the key to this programmes success, as it will make the internet available to countries such as Slovenia, where rural areas do not have a cable network.

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