Telefonica, the telco that owns O2 in the UK, is creating 750 new graduate jobs as part of a project to grow entrepreneurial talent in Europe.
Speaking at the UK opening of a new office space for start-ups, José María Álvarez-Pallete, CEO at Telefónica Europe called on companies to help develop youth talent in technology. "Just doing business is not enough. The economic environment is not going to help us. There are significant macro-economic challenges. There is a lost generation. A highly talented youth population is losing faith, and this worrying as they represent the future. In Europe, if we do nothing innovation will not happen in Europe."
Telefónica is betting that technology innovation is part of the solution, and is planning to support the growth of European IT talent with new apprenticeship places, scholarships and initiatives to support start-ups.
According to Telefónica, the most talented people will migrate to the US. He added, "Out of the most innovative companies in the world, none are European. A low percentage of people want to start their own business."
Telefónica is running a series of programmes to develop IT skills across Europe aimed at supporting innovation. Think Big is a programme to show young people the benefits of working in IT. Álvarez-Pallete said, “We want to mobilise young people. We are inviting 50,000 young people to see our company. While they are still studying we want to share a bit of time.” Telefónica hopes the programme will create opportunities for apprenticeships and summertime scholarships.
Beyond Think Big, Álvarez-Pallete said Telefónica is planning up 750 graduates by 2015. “We want to develop skills, and seek out the most talented developers in Europe. We will go to universities and ask students to join Telefónica.”
Telefónica is also introducing in an ecosystem for start-ups in Europe, known as Wayra, with office space in central London. Álvarez-Pallete explained: “We want to nurture start-ups and fund them.” The Wayra initiative acts as an accelerator for young entrepreneurs covering mobile technologies like cloud computing, mobile apps, ecommerce, eHealth and related to IT services.
For a 10% stake in the start-up Telefónica provides up to €75,000 of funding, and access to technology, mentoring and office space. The closing date for applications to the Wayra programme in the UK is April 22.