Cyprus lacks IT skills to go digital

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Cyprus’ shortage of IT talent and professionals are the biggest challenges the country faces on its path to digitalisation, said Innovation and Digitisation deputy minister Kyriacos Kokkinos.

Talking to MPs on the progress of digitalisation of the country, Kokkinos said the IT sector is currently short 3,500 professionals.

He said comprehensive upskilling and reskilling programmes were needed to address the shortage.

He argued the education system needed reform, but above all, there was an urgent need to change the mentality regarding education.

“We have killed off professional education,” said Kokkinos.

He said Cyprus’ poor performance in digital skills is recorded on various indices.

Most recently, Cyprus ranked 24th out of 28 countries on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which tracks the digital performance and progress of EU countries.

Kokkinos believes Cyprus will benefit from implementing the government’s digitalisation strategy, aiming to elevate the country to the middle of the table in the next five to seven years.

A deal has been struck with the UK for know-how regarding a portal that will support government services, which is expected to be ready in 12 to 14 months.

The platform will cater to 250 services by 2025 through the gov.cy portal.

The minister told MPs that in the 19 months since its creation in January 2020, two months before the coronavirus pandemic, his ministry has carried out several digital challenges.

Among the online services set were the COVID-19 vaccination portal, the portal for the General Healthcare System, the portal for people to apply for allowances and furlough programs during the pandemic.