Employability management needs analysis for the ICT sector in Europe : the case of SMEs

van der Heijden, Beatrice I. J. M. and van der Schoot, Esther and Scholarios, Dora and Marzec, Izabela and Bozionelos, Nikos and Epitropaki, Olga and Jedrzejowicz, Piotr and Knauth, Peter and Mikkelsen, Aslaug and van der Heijde, Claudia (2010) Employability management needs analysis for the ICT sector in Europe : the case of SMEs. Journal of Centrum Cathedra, 3 (2). pp. 182-200. (https://doi.org/10.7835/jcc-berj-2010-0046)

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The purpose of this paper is to deal with the outcomes of a so-called “employability management needs analysis” that is meant to provide more insight into current employability management activities and its possible benefits for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals working in Small- and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout Europe. A considerable series of interviews (N=107) were conducted with managers in SMEs in seven European countries, including Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and the UK. A semi-structured interview protocol was used during the interviews to cover three issues: employability (13 items), ageing (8 items), and future developments and requirements (13 items). Analysis of all final interview transcriptions was at a national level using an elaborate common coding scheme. Although an interest in employability emerged, actual policy and action lagged behind. The recession in the ICT sector at the time of the investigation and the developmental stage of the sector in each participating country appeared connected. Ageing was not seen as a major issue in the ICT sector because managers considered ICT to be a relatively young sector. There appeared to be a serious lack of investment in the development of expertise of ICT professionals. Generalization of the results to large organizations in the ICT sector should be made with caution. The interview protocol developed is of value for further research and complements survey research undertaken within the employability field of study. It can be concluded that proactive HRM (Human Resource Management) policies and strategies are essential, even in times of economic downturn. Employability management activities are especially important in the light of current career issues. The study advances knowledge regarding HRM practices adopted by SMEs in the ICT sector, especially as there is a gap in knowledge about career development issues in that particular sector.