The Europe-wide shortage of IT and e-business skills could cost the European industry 3% growth by 2003, according to an IDC report due for publication in February 2001.
Preliminary results, presented to the IDC European IT Forum, predicted that the demand for IT and e-business skills would grow from 14.5 million this year to 22 million in 2003, with skills shortages growing from 1.9 million to 3.8 million jobs - a jump in demand from 13% to 18%.
Speaking at the IDC Forum, Norbert Walter, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, called for Europe to rip up its immigration restrictions on IT professionals.
"The new economy can only be successful if young labour is available," he said. Walter welcomed the German government's "green card" initiative which allows Indian IT professionals to work in Germany - a scheme that may be imitated in the UK.
However, Walter insisted that it is no longer enough to import IT talent from India. "Open your eyes. Travel to Jordan and the West Bank. There are young people there who are well-educated," he said.
According to Walter, the US is better placed than Europe to cope with the IT skill shortage. He cited the US experience with "selective immigration polices" and its record of "inviting in and integrating labour" where it is needed as an example of practices that could limit the skills shortage's impact.