Do we have the skillsets we need to survive in today's modern economy
This has been facilitated largely with the onset of rapidly changing technology, which enables the average consumer to be informed and market aware. The Internet in particular since it’s emergence has forced companies to re-evaluate their strategies in order to compete in such competitive markets e.g. Aer Lingus altered their strategy to that of a low cost, low price airline to compete with Ryanair and EasyJet who with their no-frills strategies were dominating the market.
The constantly developing e-Marketplace has left a huge demand for the onset of new technologies. These are viewed as key in giving companies the advantage needed in order to attract web users and indeed customers. For example the standard HTML websites of the past have now been replaced by DHTML, Flash and Multimedia enabled websites, which seem now the defacto standards for user-friendliness and transactional capabilities. This constant development has given rise for the need for e-skills.
From my understanding there are two outlining factors with regards to defining an e-skill. Firstly the need for the education of programmers, e-business strategists etc who facilitate the development of tomorrows technologies but also secondly the importance of society in general to possess practitioner skills and benefit from all that is being offered to them in the world of e-business. It is said that we are living in the Information and Knowledge Age however in my opinion without the correct implementation of infrastructure and the education of e-skills we are not yet as educated and skilled as we should be.
The European Union in particular has recognised the need for such development with the establishment of the European e-Skills Summit Declaration 16-18 of October 2002, which took place in Copenhagen. At this summit they recognised the need for “well-educated and highly skilled people to take maximum advantage of the new technologies, not only in the high tech industries but in all economic sectors”
The most important initiative developed in the summit was the need to create and encourage Multi Stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs). These are a syndicate of stakeholders who develop dynamic programmes to encourage the education of e-Skills, which hopefully would create cross-border qualifications within the EU. An example of an MSP initiative would be for the government, a major Industry player and a University to together develop a course, which would improve e-skills at a national level and beyond. Such skills needed today include “ Web and Coldfusion developers, Broadvision consultants, Web Masters and e-business Strategists” that all need to be technically literate in “ Java, XML, OO Programming, C++, Scripting, Perl and CGI. These are the skills necessary to get jobs and facilitate development according to Julian Cacchioli who is a business development manager at recruitment firm Highams. So it is important for an MSP to recognise the role they could play in developing such skills, which are in great demand at industry level. The government should play the biggest role with regard to the facilitation of co-operation of stakeholder partnerships and they should be seen to be setting example.
The development of basic e-skills such as web use etc should also be encouraged at local level. What I would propose would be that Fás could develop a course where people are taught to teach e-skills. They then could hold courses or seminars teaching the public basic skills, which would enable them to learn and be more technology assertive. These courses would in my opinion also bridge the current age gap as is currently suggested allowing people to develop their own practitioner and user skills at their own pace and comfort.
I think with the development of the European Forum our e-skills will improve significantly between here and 2015. However all parties involved will have to consider developments in the marketplace which can happen at the blink of an eye. Therefore I believe there will always be a mismatch of e-skills needed and e-skills possessed. It is possible however to reduce such a mismatch to that of a minimal level but it requires a proactive foresight and effective planning by all involved stakeholders.