Published on 

Government Hosts Major Stakeholder Summit on Future Jobs Ireland

20191107 Future Jobs Ireland

  • Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys convene Summit of 200 stakeholders to discuss progress on Future Jobs Ireland, the whole-of-Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for the future.
  • Summit focuses on three themes with a view to finalising goals for 2020: transitioning, clustering and new modes of working.
  • Ministers McHugh and Mitchell O’Connor announce €300m investment in higher education under the Human Capital Initiative to meet future skills needs.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, TD, and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, today (Thursday, 7th November) convened a Summit of 200 stakeholders at Tangent in Trinity College Dublin to shape the goals of Future Jobs Ireland in 2020.

Future Jobs Ireland, which was launched in March, is the whole-of-Government plan to secure our economic success in a changing world.

Seven Government Ministers led the consultation event, which was attended by employers, workers and business representative bodies. A keynote address was given by Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society.

Progress made under the strategy so far includes:

  • The announcement today by Ministers McHugh and Mitchell O’Connor of a €300m investment in higher education under the Human Capital Initiative, which is targeted at meeting the future skills needs of the economy.
  • Developing a new SME and entrepreneurship strategy, which will be launched before the end of the year.
  • Undertaking research on remote and flexible working options, including exploring whether workers should be given the ‘right to disconnect’, which will inform new Government policy in the area.
  • Launching a €2.75 million Regional Clustering Fund and opening competitive calls under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
  • Springboard+ and Skillnet Ireland now offer a series of training programmes with a focus on the future of work in areas like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and smart factory technology.
  • A new female entrepreneurship strategy is in development and will be launched in January.
  • Introducing a streamlined process for the spouses and partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders.
  • Changes to the R&D Tax Credit scheme in Budget 2020 to make it more accessible to our smallest businesses.
  • Developing a new Industry 4.0 strategy and a National Strategy on AI.

The discussions at the Summit focused on three specific themes with a view to finalising the key actions in Future Jobs Ireland for 2020 - Transitioning,  which is about supporting workers to reskill and upskill where their role or sector is impacted by a changing world; Clustering, which strengthens our regions and encourages businesses, Irish and foreign-owned, to work together and learn from each other; and New Modes of Working, which is about exploring remote and flexible working options, as well as expanding our network of digital hubs across the country.

Speaking at the Summit, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said:

The world is changing fast.  Technology continues to herald new ways of doing business and new economic opportunities.  It is not only the types of jobs that will be changing, but the way that we work. Future Jobs Ireland ensures that as our economy changes, and traditional industries and practices are disrupted, workers and enterprises are able to transition successfully. If we adapt now, our enterprises can stay competitive and our society resilient.  If we don’t then we will quickly fall behind.

Future Jobs Ireland represents a proactive approach to avoiding the mistakes of the past, when we were over-reliant on a few sectors and complacent about future economic risks. My message is simple; there is no tolerance for any complacency at any level within Government, when it comes to the Irish economy.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD, said:

Today, Ireland is doing well. Unemployment has fallen to 4.8%. There are 420,000 more people at work since the start of 2012 and we now have more people working in Ireland today than ever before. We should be proud of our achievements but the advantages we enjoy now won’t last forever.

Future Jobs Ireland is about preparing now for the economic challenges of tomorrow and its strength is its adaptability. It offers a framework for policy that is organic, responsive, reactive and constantly evolving and that is exactly why we are here today consulting with stakeholders.

She continued:

This is as much about the wellbeing of our people as it is about the economy, something I am keen to discuss further with stakeholders today. Productivity for workers should never be about working more for less; it should be about working better for more. That’s why in 2020 I am keen to progress initiatives that will help people strike a better work/life balance.

Apart from the fact that this is the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. This is especially true as we reach full employment and experience labour shortages in some sectors. Companies that offer flexible working options to new parents, for example, are better placed attract and retain talent.

In her keynote address, Saadia Zahidi from the World Economic Forum said,

The future of jobs will be both more digital and more human. The Irish economy could become a hub for this new wave of talent in the fourth industrial revolution. Most at-risk workers can be promoted into positions with similar skills and higher wages with the right reskilling and upskilling support. If the public and the private sector work together to fundamentally rethink education and training, they can harness the new opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution for workers, companies and the economy broadly.

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, TD, and Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, TD, who attended the Summit, took the opportunity to announce a €300m Human Capital Initiative. The investment will go towards higher education programmes, which are targeted at meeting the future skills needs of the economy. Enhancing skills and developing talent is one of the five pillars in Future Jobs Ireland.

Announcing the €300m Human Capital Initiative, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, said:

The Future Jobs Summit is the right place to flag the new €300 million investment fund for higher education. The money will help colleges and universities to develop new undergraduate places, as well as create conversion courses to help graduates find the right career path.

A fund of this scale will support colleges and universities to be more innovative. It is an investment in people and skills for the future.

Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said:

Funding of this scale is great news for our students and for our institutions. This investment will support our institutions to address the skills needs of the economy, future proof graduates and ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of higher education courses on promoting and embedding the key skills that employers will value in future. It also aims to contribute to mitigation of Brexit risks, promote regional development and strengthen relationships between the higher education sector and enterprise.

Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan TD said:

The HCI will incentivise continued reform and innovation in third level provision, building on best practice nationally and internationally, strongly supporting innovation in programme design and delivery. With its strong focus on innovation and agility, it will enable us to ensure that our graduates and the education system as a whole, are in a position to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, said:

Future Jobs Ireland is about preparing now for the economic challenges of tomorrow. The Digital Age continues to offer exciting opportunities so it is important that our talented workforce, which has been so fundamental to our economic progress, continues to have the skills needed in the future. In 2019, we made significant progress under the strategy. We will maintain this momentum in 2020, through, for example, helping workers to transition to new job roles and by fostering more clusters that provide opportunities throughout all regions of the country.

The Departments of the Taoiseach and Business, Enterprise and Innovation will now take the feedback from the Summit and work collaboratively with Departments and stakeholders to develop commitments for inclusion in Future Jobs Ireland 2020 which is to be launched early in the new year.

The speech from an Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar here

 Read the full press release here