The youth has our IT future in their hands!

The era of digitization is showing no signs of slowing down, but there's a significant shortage of IT people – the demand on the labor market for web developers, programmers, and system developers is greater than the current supply.
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The gap between supply and demand

One of the reasons for the shortage is that there are not enough graduates to fill all vacancies. The Employee Insurance Agency UWV speaks of a ‘qualitative mismatch’ since existing education paths do not sufficiently meet the needs of the market, making it difficult for MBO (Intermediate vocational education) students to choose a career in IT since 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 spark interest in it?

Not enough attention to IT education

Lotte de Bruin, director of the trade organization ‘Nederland ICT,’ is concerned about IT education in primary and secondary schools in the Netherlands, saying that the Dutch government has done too little in recent years to encourage schools to devote more attention to ICT education. In various neighboring countries, children in primary education already get a taste of digitization, but adjusting the curriculum in the Netherlands is not going to happen before 2021.

The current level of technical knowledge of primary school teachers is insufficient because there is currently no national standard. As a result, children in the Netherlands lack essential digital knowledge and skills, which subsequently reduces their chances to follow an IT-related education path in the future.

The role of the business community

According to the UWV (2018), 42% of IT companies indicate that they suffer from staff shortages. Therefore, educational institutions and companies need to collaborate more intensively to develop solutions to recruit IT professionals, and it starts with sparking enthusiasm in the youth.

Young people are often not excited about the IT sector because of its image. They often think that working in IT means that you spend all day programming behind a computer, with very little idea about diversity in available IT jobs. 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 RDM IT Campus is an initiative where educational institutions, the business community, and the local government seek cooperation. For example, IT companies make their platforms available for educational purposes, give guest lectures, host online classes, and deliver practical assignments and equipment.

The Dutch Data Center Association (DDA) is 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 by practice, both to prepare the youth 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 have already been received positively by all parties involved."

This year, the DDA organized the Data Center Tech College & Career Fair to introduce students to the industry. They also organized Girls Day, a day specifically aimed at girls interested in technology.

The youth is the future

In the future, there is a need for IT talent in various disciplines. Therefore, it is essential to introduce children to these career opportunities and bring them into contact with IT and technology at a young age. If the IT sector wants to fight the staff shortage, companies and educational institutions must start working together.
Kalkhoven, F. (2018). ICT-beroepen: factsheet arbeidsmarkt. UWV.

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