Umbrella company employees with an up-to-date repertoire of coding skills are likely to find themselves looking at a slew of contracting opportunities across Europe in light of data from the European Commission (EC), which predicts a 900,000-strong shortfall in ICT professionals by 2020.

The EC estimates that 90% of professional occupations in today’s hyper-connected world require some level of ICT competence; however, the number of young people qualifying from university with degrees in computer science is failing to keep up with the growing demand for these sought-after skills. The predictable consequence is that many open vacancies for ICT professionals across Europe simply cannot be filled, despite high levels of unemployment.

In a bid to forestall the oncoming skills defect, EC vice-president for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, and the commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, Androulla Vassiliou, have sent a joint letter to all EU education ministers urging them to get as many children as possible involved in EU Code Week, a Europe-wide learning initiative that will take place between 11th and 17th October this year.

In a statement, Ms Kroes and Ms Vassiliou said: “If we do not appropriately address this issue at a European and national level, we may face a skills shortage of up to 900,000 ICT professionals by 2020. The share of women in choosing technical careers is also alarmingly low. Coding is a way to attract girls to choose tech careers.”

Programming skills will be included in the UK national curriculum later this year, but IT contractors look set to be exceptionally busy for the foreseeable future.

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