Apps Alliance Tech Policy Roundtable: eSkills for Small Businesses

On 15 October, the Apps Alliance organised its first Tech Policy Roundtable on ‘eSkills for Small Businesses’ at the European Parliament, in Brussels. The event was hosted by Amjad Bashir, MEP and a leader of the ECR working group for SMEs.  

Speakers included:

-        Catriona Meehan, Apps Alliance EU Policy Director

-        Martin Macmillan (CEO, Pollen.vc)

-        Jaka Levstek (CEO D-Labs)

-        Amjad Bashir MEP (host)

-        Paul Rübig MEP (founder and honorary President of SME Europe)

-        Anthea McIntyre MEP (ECR Employment Coordinator)

-        Alexander Riedl (Deputy Head of Unit at DG Connect)

-        Mark Mitchell (CEO mysocialagency.com).

There were around 40 attendees in the room, including the Chair of the EP Internal Markets Committee, Vicky Ford, MEP, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Ashley Fox MEP and Andrew Lewer MEP.

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Key takeaways included: 

·       The labour market has changed: it’s more flexible and it requires different digital skills.

·       SMEs face different challenges: traditional SMEs need digital-savvy employees; there is generally a need for more training and inclusion of digital education in school curriculum. Digital SMEs, on the other hand, need to hire highly qualified employees with specific skills. Unfortunately they see a mismatch between what workers can offer and what the market really needs.

·       Due to this, SMEs don’t find it easy to hire the right people and attract talent; sometimes they don’t even receive applications for their vacancies.

·      SMEs have very limited resources, and cannot train every single employee; this clearly limits the scale-up potential of companies. 

The event showcased that policy makers are aware of the digital skills gap and are committed to find solutions that are effective at the EU level.