Take any private or public organisation today and consider its current need for skills: you can easily see that there is a significant skills gap between most employers’ needs and the digital competence of the workforce. This is not only true for the high-end of advanced ICT professionals, but also for middle-skilled professions, which are growing fast and are increasingly digitalized. Employers and employees are having trouble keeping up; but so are education and training institutions. We cannot always count on them to provide timely and targeted learning on the digital skills required by the labour market.
This brings us to the candidates. Fit4jobs proposes a new view of the job candidate: a lifelong-learner whose motivation is his passport to opportunity. But where can we find these candidates? Non-profits working in the field of digital inclusion can find plenty of motivated individuals- they come to the courses, the telecentres, the libraries and they all want to learn new skills. These candidates, many of them at risk of long-term unemployment, will benefit most from acquiring digital competence. We need to recognise them and provide them concrete opportunities for learning useful digital skills.
It would all be impossible without the help of the prospective employers. Collaboration with employers during the Fit4jobs project is key. Employers know exactly what skills their business needs to grow and are increasingly willing to share this information. In projects such as Fit4jobs they have access to prepared candidates who have the exact skills they need for their business, and all of this without spending extra resources on recruitment!
Recruitment turned on its head
And what about the intermediary? Fit4jobs project is unique as it shows that non-profits can play an important role in boosting employability. Project partners are six organisations dealing with digital inclusion in their countries, all members of Telecentre Europe. They act as the go-between the employers, candidates and training providers. In each EU country where the project is currently being piloted, the member in charge acts as the link, without which the whole project and its training model would be impossible.
Non-profit organisations have been working in digital inclusion for years. They know where to find the candidates and they know how to teach digital skills. But most of all they are capable to act as a true partner to the employers. This is not business as usual. This is not demand and supply. This is bringing the candidate at the center and empowering them to learn and grow, with support from the non-profit and the for-profit sectors.
The purpose of it all may be about ‘finding a job”, but the means is what counts here: the skills and the learning, in short, anything to ensure people stay “fit” for jobs.
By Masha Tarle