Investing in skills: why ‘leveling up’ in a changing world makes sense

European Investment Fund (EIF)
5 min readMar 15, 2023
Vânia Costa and Victoria Marmili, Skills & Education Finance

The EU is encouraging people to invest in (vocational) training and re-skilling with loans at better terms or other financing schemes that make access to education more affordable for people. And, not only for tech!

With a growing focus on tech, disruptive innovation has become one of the most defining factors of our time. Fears of robots — or artificial intelligence — taking over our jobs or making us redundant in our capacities are ever more frequent in our daily lives. But how can we level up, or embrace something new?

Digital technologies have triggered a massive paradigm shift, so much so that experts are now referring to this transition period as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Second Machine Age, or even Industry 4.0.

Many jobs are already being automated through technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things and cloud computing. And although McKinsey suggests that less than 5% of occupations will become fully automated in the future, they do predict that about 60% of occupations could see at least a third of their job tasks automated. With these constant leaps in technology, it’s no wonder our knowledge and skills are rapidly becoming outdated.

Automation, Digitalisation and New Career Opportunities

Sounds alarming, but it really shouldn’t be. In fact, automation and digitalisation are also opening up many new career opportunities and even triggering a tech talent shortage across the entire IT sector.

The pandemic has also contributed to accelerating this process, often leading businesses to kick-start digital transformation programmes. Things like remote working or the surge in demand for e-commerce and delivery services are some of the shifts that have compelled businesses to invest in a digital transformation plan.

This is creating a growing need for newly skilled staff in the tech field, in coding, developing, and doing the complex techie stuff behind all the products and processes we are using seamlessly on a daily basis. But dropping everything and moving into IT isn’t as simple as that.

In times of high uncertainty, this sort of leap of faith could be deemed an unnecessary risk, making any sort of career switch significantly less appealing. Moreover, education or re-skilling usually comes at a cost, not always within everyone’s reach.

EU Investments in Education, Training and Skills

This is why the EU developed a pilot initiative, the Skills & Education Guarantee Pilot (S&E Pilot), to do its part in easing the transition and facilitating re-training and re-skilling. The initiative was designed as part of the broader effort to stimulate investments in education, training and skills.

To date, more than 270 European citizens across 14 countries have been able to access more affordable financing for their studies and training programmes. Among them, there have been a significant number of women too, who are typically under-represented in the world of ICT. In Europe, there are about four times more men than women with ICT-related studies, and 3 times more men working in the digital sector.

Women Who Code: Leveling the IT Playing Field

Listen to Victoria Marmili, Malaga (Spain) — Frontend developing

Victoria Marmili is one of those people with a passion for coding, who benefitted from this opportunity to challenge that trend. Victoria discovered her passion for programming in high school, but opted out of it due to peer-pressure:

“I had learned some really simple coding in school and loved it, but when it came to choosing a career path, no other girls chose IT. So, I ended up studying business administration. I enjoyed the maths, the statistics, the algebra, but I’ve always had this urge to go back to code.”

Funding the Future: From Teacher to IT Professional

Jana Kudlickova, Alicante (Spain) -Full-Stack development
Jana Kudlickova, Alicante (Spain) — Full-Stack development

Being able to take out a loan on favourable terms (low-interest, with repayment starting only after employment) can also prove particularly helpful for those that, unlike Victoria, don’t know much about the IT field yet and are taking a proper leap into the unknown. People like Jana Kudlickova, from Ružomberok in northern Slovakia, who initially studied Slovak and English philology and worked as a teacher before losing her job during the pandemic lock-downs:

“I’m from a very different world. I had zero IT literacy, so it jolted me out of my comfort zone, but they said that it was OK for beginners — so I went for it.”

Having no other source of revenue, the EU-backed income-sharing agreement provided the necessary financial support and security for Jana to seize this life-changing opportunity:

“My course is paid for and I will only start to repay the full amount once I have a stable salary…and if anything happens, repayment is paused. It gives me flexibility and peace of mind.”

A Journey from Marketing to IT Bootcamp

Vania Costa, Porto, Portugal — Immersive Full-Stack Programming Bootcamp
Vânia Costa, Porto (Portugal) — Immersive Full-Stack Programming Bootcamp

Apart from the security that comes with beneficial repayment conditions, this EU initiative can also propel participants into a job market with ample opportunity. Vânia Costa, from Porto, explains that image “after the bootcamp, we all did several job interviews with companies. Within two weeks, I had three job offers.” Vânia used to work in marketing, but in early 2021 she left behind her job and enrolled in a programming bootcamp, with financial support from the Jose Neves Foundation, backed by the EU guarantee.

“Risk? Yes, everything is risky. But I don’t think anyone’s too old to change careers. If you look at my classmates from the bootcamp — I think there were 30 of us — I can tell you that at least 28 got a job in this field very quickly.”

IT Skills and Europe’s Digital Future

The EC has set a target that, by 2030, at least 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills, and there should be 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU, equally split between men and women.

With that digital future already taking shape before our very eyes every day, financial support mechanisms backed by the EU, are a very important step in the right direction.

On the back of the popularity of the initial pilot effort, the EU has decided to step up financing in this direction, through its new InvestEU programme. As a result, the EIF will continue to channel financial support to students and learners keen to work on their skill set in a changing world.

Our partners are close to you — so let’s level up!



European Investment Fund (EIF)

Europe's leading provider of risk financing for SMEs. Cornerstone investor in VC and PE funds. Making debt financing more affordable for entrepreneurs. @EIF_EU