The youth has our IT future in their hands!

The era of digitization has not yet come to an end. Digitization will cause an end to certain professions, but new activities will also arise, particularly in the IT sector. The development of new technologies also creates a demand for new skills. In the Netherlands, there is still a large shortage of IT people. The demand on the labor market for web developers, programmers, and system developers is greater than the current supply.

The gap between supply and demand
One of the reasons for the shortage is that there are not enough graduates to fill all vacancies. In addition, the UWV speaks of a “qualitative mismatch” because education does not sufficiently meet the needs of the market. This makes it difficult for MBO students (Intermediate vocational education) to move on to an IT career because many IT vacancies require a higher vocational or university level.

The question is: do primary and secondary schools pay enough attention to IT education to trigger young people to start IT related education? 

Too little attention for IT education
Lotte de Bruin, director of trade organization ‘Nederland ICT’, is concerned about IT education in primary and secondary education in the Netherlands. She says the Dutch government has done too little in recent years to encourage schools to devote more attention to ICT education. Whereas in various countries around us it is ensured that children in primary education already get in contact with digitization, the adjustment in the curriculum in the Netherlands will only happen from 2021. 

Also, the current level of knowledge about technology of primary school teachers is insufficient, because there is currently no national standard for the technical level of knowledge for teachers. As a result, children in the Netherlands lack essential digital knowledge and skills, which subsequently reduces the chance that these children will follow an IT-related education in the future. 

The role of the business community
According to the UWV (2018), 42 percent of companies in the IT services sector indicate that they are hindered in their work due to staff shortages. Therefore, educational institutions and companies need to collaborate more intensively to come up with solutions to recruit IT professionals. This starts with the enthusiasm of the youth. 

Young people are often not enthusiastic about the IT sector because of the image. They often think that working in IT means that you spend all day programming behind a computer. Young people have no idea that there is much more diversity in IT jobs. In order to change this image and let young people get acquainted with this sector, active participation from the business community is required. 

Concrete examples
In Rotterdam, the IT Campus at the RDM ground is an initiative where educational institutions, the Rotterdam business community and the Rotterdam government seek cooperation. For example, hosting and cloud companies make platforms available for educational purposes. In addition, companies enrich minors by giving guest lectures or by delivering online cases or practical assignments and equipment. 

The Dutch Datacenter Association (DDA) is the branch organization for data centers in the Netherlands. They are committed to building a bridge between education and business. Eline Stuivenwold, Education and Employment policy officer at the DDA says:  

The data center sector offers opportunities for educational institutions to improve alignment with practice. Both to prepare the young people of today for the digitally driven labor market of tomorrow, and the opportunity to work more closely with the business community. As a branch organization, we are committed to building bridges between education and data centers. The first initiatives to this end are already received positively by all parties involved. 

This year, the DDA organized the Datacenter Tech College & Career Fair, an event to introduce students to the industry. They also organized Girlsday, a day specifically aimed at girls to instigate their interest in technology. 

The youth is the future
In the future, there is a need for IT talent in various disciplines. It is therefore important to introduce children to these career opportunities. It is important to bring children into contact with IT and technology at a young age. This way you interest a broad group of young people for a future in IT. If the IT sector wants to do something about the staff shortage, then companies and educational institutions have to start working together. 

References
Kalkhoven, F. (2018). ICT-beroepen: factsheet arbeidsmarkt. UWV. Retrieved from https://www.uwv.nl/overuwv/Images/ICT_beroepen_factsheet_arbeidsmarkt.pdf 

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