European Commission president José Manuel Barroso called on Europe’s digital businesses, governments, training and education sectors to join a “grand coalition for digital jobs” to address up to 900,000 job vacancies expected to exist in Europe in information and communication technologies by 2015.

Despite the current levels of unemployment, the number of digital jobs is growing by more than 100 000 per year. Yet the number of fresh ICT graduates and skilled ICT workers is not keeping up.

Vice-presidents Neelie Kroes (digital agenda) and Antonio Tajani (industry and entrepreneurship) and Commission members László Andor (employment, social affairs and inclusion) and Androulla Vassiliou (education, culture, multilingualism and youth) also attended the launch of the grand coalition in Brussels last week, which is part of the Commission’s drive to make Europe more competitive.

Europe cannot afford to leave employment opportunities like this unexploited. The announcement builds on the groundwork laid by vice-president Kroes in collecting initial pledges on new jobs, internships, training places, start-up funding, free online university courses and more from technology companies, governments, educators, social partners, employment service providers and civil society organisations at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Initial commitments from stakeholders have been endorsed with more than 15 companies and organisations signing up to the grand coalition.

Among the first pledges to come to life is a new online learning platform for young people called the Academy Cube and a new training module for energy smart grid installers.

The Commission has sought pledges in training and matching for digital jobs, mobility, certification, awareness raising, and innovative learning and teaching.

The Commission is also launching Startup Europe, a single platform for tools and programmes supporting people wanting to set up and grow web start-ups in Europe.