How to Bridge the Technology Skills Gap in Europe 

There aren’t enough skilled people to fill vacancies for tech jobs across Europe. Without the right people in place to fill those roles, how are organisations going to ride out the coming economic downturn? Upskilling and cross-skilling the workforce to create ‘Π’ (Pi) shaped talent is your best bet.

Digitalisation typically underpins initiatives to cut costs and increase efficiency and so, a recession may drive a widening gap between demand and supply of technology professionals. As economic difficulties grow, redundancies and business failures will likely follow, the newly unemployed will need to find new opportunities, perhaps by reskilling for work in the technology sector.

To close this growing skills gap and increase the supply of competent, capable technology professionals we need to rethink our approach to who, where and how we train and develop technology professionals – at scale.

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The Skills Gap and It’s Impact on the Enterprises and Economy

There were around 870,000 tech and digital job vacancies available in the UK alone between January to May 2022 – a ten-year high, and there is a similar growth in demand for technology skills across the globe.

In Europe, the European Commission’s Digital Decade programme is seeking to address the problem by employing twenty million ICT specialists by 2030. Even so, there are vacancies across the board in technology and we need to find innovative ways of developing the right kinds of skills and people to fill the gap for businesses and public sector organisations alike.

The impact of this skills gap is considerable – Eurostat showed that 55% of companies struggled to fill their ICT vacancies and McKinsey describes how Europe is falling behind global leaders in most growth-enabling technologies such as applied AI and distributed infrastructure. The recruitment outlook for organisations that need technology professionals is not looking particularly rosy.

So what is causing this skills gap? It does not seem to be the availability of training: there is ample provision of training provision covering IT disciplines across Europe according to the European Software Skills Association and yet there are still many vacancies unfilled across the region. The problem seems to be a number of factors, chief amongst them being the nature of the skills training and the pool of people from which potential new employees are recruited.

While there is comprehensive supply of ‘hard’ technical skills training, there is relatively little technical training that also builds softer skills in learners. Consider recruiting a person to an IT role – it is undoubtedly good to have a technically competent person join the team, but how much better is it if that person also has good time management, collaboration and communication skills alongside that technical competency?

Much of the technology training provision available today focuses purely on hard, technical skills – but successful technology workers do not operate in a technology-focused bubble. Technology workers need to be able to communicate and collaborate with people across the business and training providers’ focus on hard skills can come at the cost of developing more rounded, more employable people.

Capitalising on Hybrid Work to Bridge the Skills Gap

The Covid pandemic has taught us that hybrid and remote operating models for workers, particularly knowledge workers, can be viable and sustainable. For employers this potentially opens the pool of talent from which they can draw to include geographies that would not previously have been considered practical.

For organisations in western Europe the burgeoning technology sector in central Europe presents one such pool of talent. From Hungary and Poland, to Albania and Romania, the lure of high paying tech jobs means a willing workforce. Nearshoring and recruitment from central Europe is growing as the IT sector booms. Integrating workers from the region is simpler than from some geographies – cultural differences across western and central/eastern Europe are relatively small and language, at least in the technology sector, is rarely an issue, for example, in Poland, 90% of software developers have an intermediate or higher level of English proficiency.

So, how can we begin to tackle the skills gap? No single tactic is going to address the problem, however there are practical ways in which organisations can start to make a difference.

To close this growing skills gap and increase the supply of competent, capable technology professionals we need to rethink our approach to who, where and how we train and develop technology professionals – at scale.

József Boda
CEO, Codecool

József Boda - Headshot

Creating ‘Π’-Shaped Expertise by Upskilling Your Workforce

Upskilling your existing workforce. Even in situations where new systems or other changes have made an employee’s skills redundant, retraining that person with new technical skills can lead to unexpected benefits beyond simply filling a technical resource requirement. Current employees already understand the organisation’s culture and have the connections with people in the business that a newcomer will lack.

Retraining also lends itself to developing ‘Π’ (pi) shaped people – arguably a better proposition than the more traditional ‘T’ shape. The ‘Π’ shaped employee has strong technical skills (one ‘leg’ of the pi) that are complemented by in-depth strength in another domain (typically a business specialism), providing a richer, more rounded worker.

On a broader scale, encouraging training providers to build training courses that encompass softer skills alongside technical skills will help to ensure that graduates of those courses are more immediately employable. While apprenticeships and similar courses provide learners with opportunities to develop on-the-job skills, the often multi-year commitment required to support an apprenticeship are unlikely to satisfy the immediate and near-term needs of employers.

Skill Can & Should Be Nurtured from Within

There will of course always be a need for high-end academically oriented degree level courses in technology, however, the bulk of jobs in the sector, and hence much of the skills gap, can be filled by training people with good technical and soft skills today.

The skills gap is an issue that can only be solved if everyone plays their part. The digital skills ecosystem needs to change. Europe needs training providers to deliver graduates who can be effective workers and team players, not just skilled technical specialists.


József Boda - Headshot

József Boda
CEO, Codecool

Michał Mysiak

Michal Mysiak

Codecool and Software Development Academy (SDA) recently merged to become a European digital skilling and sourcing powerhouse. With presence over eight countries, the new organisation is on target to train 15,000 – 20,000 people annually in IT skills and work with 400+ corporate partners to provide workforces trained in the most popular technology subjects, from coding, security to Internet of Things and more.