Help Wanted: What good is job creation if we can’t find people with the right skills to fill them?

According to the International Labour Organisation, the world needs to create over 500 million new jobs by 2020 to provide career opportunities for people who have jobs now, as well as youths who will join the workforce. But the biggest roadblock to economic growth may well be finding workers with the necessary skills and training to get those jobs done. The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training projects that demand for highly-qualified people will increase by 16 million between now and 2020, while demand for low-skilled workers will plummet by around 12 million. Indeed, by 2015 the European Commission estimates a shortfall of up to 900,000 information and communications technology (ICT) professionals across Europe alone. The skills gap is especially acute in emerging countries like Africa and the Middle East with youth unemployment rates from 11 percent to almost 28 percent.

Training the workforce of the future may seem like a daunting task. However, for companies like SAP, the future literally depends on people who understand technology innovations and can put them to work for customers. That’s why SAP has recently scaled up its partnerships with local start-ups, small and mid-size businesses, and schools across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to give people of all ages the qualifications they need to make good on innovations such as in-memory computingmobile, and cloud. Highlights from just two of the latest program components illustrate the incredible scope of this undertaking which SAP calls the “EMEA Workforce of the Future.”

The Academy Cube is an online eLearning platform slated for initial roll-out in Spain, Greece, and Portugal. The goal is to train over 100,000 graduates and job seekers in Europe.  Here’s an excerpt from a recent blog that describes the program:

“At the heart of the Academy Cube initiative is a cloud-based internet platform that companies and institutions can use to provide e-learning courses and post job offerings. People looking for work can use the platform to get the skills and the qualifications high-tech jobs require. And potential employers know what young talents they’re potentially hiring.” 

Skills for Africa will train workers initially in South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya, and Senegal supported by 56 partners to help cover the vast region. Announced during co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe’s recent trip to Johannesburg, the hybrid classroom and e-learning approach takes into account that internet access isn’t a given, and focuses on key industries including public and financial sectors, utilities, and oil and gas. Students receive training kits with printed course materials and on an encrypted USB in English, French, and Portuguese.

SAP’s long-time commitment to sustainable business also encompasses volunteers who teach science, technology, engineering, math, and entrepreneurship in schools. In addition, SAP trains unemployed people in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and BeLux. In 2012, 16,800 workers were trained and 73 percent found a job immediately. To pay off on the promise of innovation, the IT industry at-large needs even more programs like these. Job creation is only one part of the puzzle. Skilled workers complete it.

This post originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.