The growing lack of digital profiles and skills in Spain generates significant losses of activity in the ICT sector. In the field of digital services alone, we note a surge in activity of close to 315 million euros per year, and a drop of 110 million euros in tax revenue per year and 12.5% fewer hires. , which would be equivalent to a minimum of 3,600 vacant positions per year
This is one of the main conclusions of the study “Employability and digital talent 2020” prepared by the VASS Foundation and the Autonomous University of Madrid. This comprehensive report was attended by experts from 46 major companies and institutions in the ICT sector, as well as nearly a thousand students from the latest Telecommunications and Computer Engineering courses from 21 universities.
Accompanied by the director of the Foundation of the Autonomous University of Madrid Mr. Fidel Rodríguez Batalla and the president of the VASS Foundation, Mr. Fco. Javier Latasa at its opening, the presentation was also attended by the director of the National Technology Observatory. and society (ONTSI), Ms. Luca Velasco; the president of the Spanish Consulting Association (AEC), Ms. Elena Salgado; Vodafone Talent Director, Da. Rebeca Navarro and the deputy director of the Higher Technical School of Computer Engineering of the University of Seville and co-author of the study, Mr. Pablo Trinidad, with the director of the VASS Foundation, professor at the Autonomous University from Madrid and responsible for this study, Antonio Rueda, who warned that “the fact of not being able to hire implies losing opportunities for job creation and, therefore, business opportunities that end up affecting the economy national and, especially since the weight of the digital economy, being already important, it will tend to become more and more so in the years to come. “
Over the past year, digital transformation has taken on a more prominent role due to the pandemic, becoming one of the main structural challenges of the economy. The penetration of e-commerce in businesses is 30% above the EU average and has increased by 125% since 2011, with a very significant jump in 2020, due to the restriction of movement during containment. Already 27% of companies in Spain participate in e-commerce transactions. The field of activity more specifically related to IT has tripled so far this century and has multiplied by 10 since 1995.
This new panorama has accelerated even more if possible the establishment of professional and commercial relations which evolve in tandem with technologies and IT services. This is why digital skills are a central aspect of this process and already have a transversal character which, according to SEPE, is required in all jobs.
Likewise, the European Union estimates that 45% of jobs in 2022 will be linked to the digital sphere, and LinkedIn alone represented more than 285,000 job vacancies for technological positions in Europe at the end of 2020. This trend will continue. accentuate according to forecasts from the European Commission, which indicate that, in just two years, 45% of jobs in the EU will be digitally linked.
Another of the conclusions of the third edition of this “Employability and digital talents” study is that, although Spain is the EU country where the base of companies hiring ICT specialists has increased the most, 117 % between 2012 and 2020, the number of university graduates in these branches fell by no less than 23.2%.
Between 2011 and 2019, Spain is, after Italy, the EU country where this base of technical profiles has developed the least. STEM disciplines have a very modest weight among university students since just over one in five graduates belong to these disciplines, compared to almost 28% of all the most relevant countries in the EU.
Among Spanish universities, just under 5,000 young IT talents from undergraduate studies complete their studies and permanently join the labor market (4,847 in the 2018-2019 academic year), and 2,260 from those who have studied the master. That makes a total of 7,738 graduates, which is low for the more than 15,000 companies in Spain hiring or trying to hire ICT specialists in 2020, which means that for two Spanish companies that need the services of an ICT professional, there is only one trained profile to take on this job.
As an aggravating factor in this situation, over the past five years, the university system has left out 20,914 young people who have applied for a place to take the degree in computer science. The dropout rate in these disciplines tops the national ranking with 50% dropout in the first three courses of engineering and IT careers. “This is one of the collateral frictions, the inability of higher education to channel vocations in digital fields. The wait for a placement does not seem to remunerate young people when they consider it with the effort required to finish their higher education ”, underlines Rueda.
The skills of digital talents
The talent gap does not only exist in the quantitative field, but also in the qualitative. Globally, the gap between the level of talent that companies need and that presented by young computer scientists in higher education reaches 46.8%, and confirms that the deficit has grown steadily since 2018.
Distributed between the two technical and transversal skills that make up digital talent, behavioral skills or soft skills, they have a smaller gap that reaches 40.5%, despite the fact that the pandemic has widened this gap by more than five points. compared to the previous edition. . Regarding technical or hard skills, the gap continues to exceed 50 points, even worsening the records of the previous year.
“The difficulty of aligning the knowledge acquired with the practical and applied specialties that make up the current demand of companies is once again more evident than in the previous edition. A rapidly evolving technical knowledge environment seems to fuel this gap in relation to the basic training acquired by students throughout their training cycle, necessarily less dynamic due to the relative rigidity of study plans and training paths. training, slowly evolving and bureaucratized subjects; and with severe economic restrictions, especially in the public sphere, to integrate teachers who are more connected to the market ”, explains Rueda.
The professional asymmetry index, which measures the difference in perception between young people and companies, widens from 23.1% to 31.2% in one year. “Young people lose sight of the fact that they should be more proactive in the activities their university conceives of: this is what the nearly 100 teachers who gave their opinion in the study think. However, they are optimistic about their early integration into work, and value extra-salary factors as more determining than salary in the choice of a job, and they are above all looking for professional stability, which in a way symbolizes a commitment company that gives them cover to be able to develop their professional project and continue to learn, ”says Rueda.
The challenges of reducing the deficit
The ever-widening talent gap is of greater significance this year due to the importance that digital transformation has taken as the focus of the country’s economic recovery following the onset of COVID-19.
Therefore, in addition to all the data exposed, “Employability and digital talents 2020” also addresses the challenges that Spain should take up as soon as possible to close the gaps between business and academia in terms of ICT is concerned .
In this sense, and as a first challenge, it is recalled that the university needs to put in place administrative flexibility tools to develop its study plans and improve its budgetary capacity. “When assessing the level of technical skills among young people, they are penalized in areas of knowledge because they require expensive training, such as anything that involves the deployment and operation of software in the cloud, or l ‘Internet of Things (IoT), where universities have real difficulty in articulating adequate tests due to lack of budget. “It’s a shame that the cups affect these very dynamic disciplines, while one in four university careers cannot cover 75% of its places,” explains Rueda.
Another challenge posed by this report and which was revealed in the previous edition is the place of women in the ICT sector. Generally speaking, they represent 46% of the workforce in Spain, but in the ICT sector they barely reach 32%. The situation is not improving academically either, as only 15% of university computer science students are women. Therefore, it is essential to put in place effective equality plans, training and talent cultivation campaigns specifically geared towards women.
Finally, the role of the Public Administration is essential as an engine of change and an economic engine for projects that help reduce this deficit as quickly as possible. This is indicated by the action plan of the European Pillar of Social Rights, with which the European Union wishes to promote advanced digital skills with the aim of increasing the current 7.8 million ICT specialists to 20 million.