Towards a European Software Skills Strategy

It has been a year now since a consortium of 26 organisations throughout Europe started a collaboration (European Software Skills Alliance) with the goal of developing and implementing a strategy to continuously analyse the skills needed by the fast changing software industry. As a partner in this alliance the HU University of Applied Sciences is not only responsible for the need analysis in the Benelux region, but is also the co-lead for the development and piloting of new training materials that can be used by VET providers as part of their educational offering. 

Current key findings

So, after a year what are the first results? Having interviewed and surveyed people within the software services sector across 21 countries we found two key findings. Using the role profiles as described in the European e-competence framework to determine the importance of different roles, the first key finding is that the most wanted role is that of 'Developer'. Other roles that were mentioned are 'DevOps expert', 'solution designer', 'test specialist' and 'technical (software) specialist'. The 'digital media specialist' role of which we also thought that this is important in this age of social networks, was found to be of no relevance in relation to software development, deployment, and maintenance. Furthermore, the participants in our needs analysis stated that they found it challenging to keep their developers skills set up-to-date as the tasks and activities seems to be changing continuously.

The second key finding is that the skills needed in software roles are not confined to 'hard' skills related to software technology. While software professionals need a solid foundation in regards to understanding programming principles, there is a growing importance of soft skills that are needed to be successful as a software professional. Soft skills that were mentioned often are critical thinking and analysis, problem solving and self-management, next to interpersonal skills such as teamwork and communication skills.

Next steps and Software Skills Launch Event

Where to go from here? In the next phase of the project the focus will be on developing curricula and learning materials to skill, upskill, and reskill individuals into high demand professional software roles. Pilots to test and further refine these learning materials will start with educational partners throughout Europe in 2023.

However before this, all commences the official launch of the Software Skills Strategy for Europe will take place on February 10th, 2022. Interested? You can still register to participate at the Software Skills Launch Event.

Blog written by Pascal Ravesteijn, Professor research group Process Innovation & Information Systems Utrecht University of Applied Science

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