This week’s technology news – 28th April 2014

Digital skills gap of Euro youth leaves UK door wide to lose talent
A survey across 28 European countries has reported that 63% of young people (18-30 year olds) emerging from education, feel ill equipped with the necessary digital skills for the workplace. These are skills they want to have and recognise that they will need to acquire post education to compete in a pan-European environment. 86% of those surveyed say they would be willing to move between EU countries to work. Meanwhile research of 1,000 UK businesses found almost 50% of digital companies are considering looking abroad for potential candidates because of the lack of trained workers domestically. As VP of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes commented: “In order to meet the needs of coming generations, it is incumbent on employers, educators and regulators to understand expectations of what is termed the digital enterprise”.

With 74% of employers in the digital, IT and information services industry facing a skills crisis, this is a two-fold wake up call. For educators, Government must ensure schools have teachers trained with the right technology skills to use in the right way, to fully exploit technology learning. This was brought home by a 2012 study by the National Endowment for Science Technology and Arts (NESTA) which found that despite schools spending £1.4bn on technology in 3 years, it had rarely been used to its “full promise and potential”. Secondly, for UK technology businesses, this is an urgent cue to engage more proactively with youth and invest in apprenticeship schemes which could plug some of the gap, or see talent lost which may not be recovered down the line.

Not me, Guvnor!
A recent Trend Micro survey of 850 senior IT decision makers across Europe has identified an alarming lack of basic knowledge about the looming EU Data Protection Regulations. Whilst German businesses confirmed an 87% understanding of the new legislation and reforms, 50% of British respondents were completely unaware of the impending legislation – and out of this and just 10% said they knew what steps were needed to achieve compliance. With fines that could reach €100 million or 5% of global revenue, UK business organisations, Government and the UK media need to jump on this now to avoid confusion and ignorance continuing to threaten UK profits.

The regulations apply to any company that deals with EU resident data, even if that company does not have a legal entity within any of the EU countries. To start compliance checks, companies could run a health check or assessment on where the organisation is right now: what data is stored, how it is processed and what policies currently govern it. This would enable firms to spot where the gaps are in their data policy and take corrective actions to close this hole and avoid the heavy financial penalties.

Net neutrality at risk
Net Neutrality is the principle that ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) should not restrict types of internet content, regardless of source and without favouring or blocking any particular product or website. This has recently been the subject of heated conversation as both the US and European government have been confirming their stance on Net neutrality. According to US reports, the Federal Communication Commission will approve ISP’s charging a premium for data-heavy content such as Netflix, Amazon and Google.

Without strong net neutrality ISP’s could demand escalating fees for connecting to specific services, potentially locking out both users and content providers unable to pay up. The European Parliament has voted to restrict ISP’s from charging services. If this goes ahead European legislation to veto any surcharges could come into effect by the end of the year.

Microsoft finally completes its Nokia Devices and Services acquisition
Originally announced back in last September, Microsoft last Friday completed its acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services unit. Nokia is now formed of HERE (GPS and mapping services), Nokia Solutions & Networks (formally Nokia Siemens Networks) and further developments. The rest is now part of Microsoft, sold for $7.3 billion. Nokia’s former CEO Stephen Elop now leads Microsoft’s hardware division reporting directly to new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft used this time to remind us that Windows Phone is the fastest-growing ecosystem in the smartphone market. A more interesting take is how Nokia’s pedigree in mobile devices will influence Microsoft’s hardware going forwards. With both hardware and software being developed under one roof they have the potential to give Apple who operate the same strategy, a run for its money going forwards.

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