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National action plan to ensure more skilled IT professionals

Companies are hungry for skilled IT professionals, but Denmark lacks targeted measures to enhance the qualifications of the workforce - both in the short and long term. The Confederation of Danish Industry therefore presents a proposal for a national IT action plan that can help companies like VELUX achieve their goals for the future.
Today it is not only IT companies that need skilled IT professionals. Both small and large companies in all industries are dependent on digitalisation to be able to compete, but high demand means companies must fight for employees with IT expertise. Photo: VELUX.

Publiceret: 09.02.2017
Af Lotte Malene Ruby mail

“We’re moving into a digital world that is changing every aspect of our business,” says Michael K. Rasmussen, senior vice president of Brand & Communication at VELUX.

VELUX is, at its core, a classic manufacturing company that has become internationally renowned for e.g. roof windows. But this does not prevent the company from also being a digital front-runner that today operates as a digital workplace with teams working together across national borders

“Digitalisation not only affects the way we work internally but also the way we collaborate externally and how we communicate with clients. And, finally, digital solutions are increasingly included in the products we develop,” says Michael K. Rasmussen.

VELUX has, for example, developed the tool Daylight Visualiser, which can simulate the fall of light from different types of windows in a specific building. The tool is widely used by architects in many countries. Another example is an indoor air quality monitor that private customers can install in their home and control via smartphone.

See also: Tech giants love Denmark

Companies compete for employees

At VELUX, the challenge to recruit the right and often highly specialised employees has clear consequences.

“It means that we have to look further abroad to find the necessary expertise. For example, our marketing department looks like the United Nations - that’s how international it is. It also means that there is a limit to our capacity when we want to develop something new. Meanwhile, consumer expectations for what we can supply are continually getting higher,” says Michael K. Rasmussen.

VELUX therefore works internally with upgrading employees’ skills. This is necessary, because when you digitalise processes in one part of the business, the rest of the organisation must also follow.

“And, naturally, the same applies to society. Society as a whole needs to adapt to the digital world and ensure that we have the right skills,” says Michael K. Rasmussen.

See also: Foreign nationals to plug shortfall of IT specialists

Now is the time for action

A recent analysis from Statistics Denmark published in January this year shows that over half of the companies that hired or attempted to hire IT specialists in 2015 had difficulty obtaining the right employees. Hence the need for action, says the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

“The new government platform contains many promising gestures towards an overall strategy for Denmark's digital growth and a thorough look at the future labour market, but there is a need for this to be translated into concrete action as soon as possible,” says Chairman of DI’s Digitalisation Panel, Marianne Dahl Steensen, CEO at Microsoft Denmark.

Newly educated IT specialists are today offered jobs before they have stepped outside the university, and outside big cities, it is almost impossible to find highly qualified IT employees. The problems will only exacerbate in coming years, shows an analysis from the Danish Business Authority, which estimates that the shortage of IT specialists could reach 19,000 in 2030.

DI proposes action plan

“Danish companies lack employees who can assist with the digital transition. And while previously, it was mostly IT companies that couldn’t find the right specialists, it is now companies across the board - also in the manufacturing, trade and service industries - that have growing problems with recruitment,” says Karsten Dybvad, CEO of the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

DI therefore proposes that the government sets out a targeted national plan for digital skills to ensure that companies have better opportunities to recruit the IT professionals they need in the future.
“It requires a broad-based effort, from primary school to continuing eduction – and that Denmark gets better at attracting talent from abroad,” says Karsten Dybvad.

VELUX is pleased with the action plan that DI has put forth.

“It’s precisely that sort of initiative that is required, because we’ll need it everywhere. Every time you start a digitalisation project, it’s like planting a seed. Afterwards, it needs to be maintained, and something new must then be developed. So we as a company would very much like to offer support and do our part,” says Michael K. Rasmussen.

Targeted action in six areas
DI’s proposal for a national IT action plan offers concrete suggestions for how Denmark can enhance digital skills in the workforce in both the short and long term.

• Denmark must be Europe’s leading digital hub - Denmark must become better at attracting IT specialists from abroad by establishing a national IT development centre where Danish businesses, international IT specialists and IT students can come together to solve concrete tasks.

• Denmark must have a technology pact - more young people must be inspired to undertake a degree in IT. The many scattered efforts should be replaced with a targeted cooperation between policy makers, educational institutions, the labour market’s parties and companies, following the the Dutch model.

• Future generations must take digital ownership - young people today are proficient IT users, but this is not enough if more people are to contribute to the development of new technology in the future. Action must be therefore taken through targeted education initiatives from primary school to secondary education.

• We need more IT graduates - a new graduate IT programme must therefore be created, and admissions to the existing programmes must be increased. Meanwhile, there should be focus on encouraging women to choose a degree in IT - and preferably one of the more technically oriented programmes.

• Digital learning must be the future’s ABC - it is therefore not enough to use IT as a teaching tool in the form of smart boards and tablets. There is a need to develop new forms of teaching in which technology is better employed, but this requires, among other things, an enhancement of educators’ skills.

• The workforce must receive a strong boost in digital skills - it is therefore necessary to review and improve the entire continuing education system, with a focus on enhancing IT skills within the workforce.

The new government platform contains many promising gestures towards an overall strategy for Denmark's digital growth and a thorough look at the future labour market, but there is a need for this to be translated into concrete action as soon as possible.
CHAIRMAN OF DI’S DIGITALISATION PANEL, MARIANNE DAHL STEENSEN, CEO AT MICROSOFT DENMARK
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PUBLISHED: 2/9/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 2/9/2017