Govt Hosts 'Future Jobs' Conference

The government has meet with key stakeholders on proposals to secure Ireland's next phase of economic development.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys and Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe will host some 160 key stakeholders at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin today, 22 November, on 'Future Jobs'.

As we reach full employment, our focus must shift from getting people back to work, to creating sustainable jobs that can deal with new challenges and embrace new technologies.

Ireland's economic turnaround over the past six years has been remarkable with unemployment falling from a high of 16% to 5.1% and 385,700 new jobs created since 2012. This success has also imposed new constraints on the economy, while international developments like Brexit and new technologies mean that jobs and business models must adapt.

Future Jobs is the Government's response to these challenges, and is designed to secure our enterprise base and secure Ireland's long-term economic prosperity. Today's Summit will be attended by employers, workers and representative bodies, who will give feedback on the current draft of the plan.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "Today's school children will be doing jobs that don't currently exist. At the same time our planet is under pressure from climate change and other challenges. New forms of energy, transport and food production will transform industries, companies and jobs. Future Jobs is about positioning us now to embrace these big changes.

"The Future Jobs strategy sets out longer term ambitions for the future of the economy, taking account of the challenges facing us, then translating these into a small number of impactful and deliverable actions which can be taken on an annual basis, starting in 2019. There will be accountability for delivery of these actions, overseen personally by me and by my Department. The next few decades will involve great change and opportunity. If Ireland is to adapt to and continue to thrive, we must start preparing now for tomorrow's economy."

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said: "Our economy has come on in leaps and bounds in the last number of years but we cannot rest on our laurels. The Ireland of 2018 is very different to the Ireland of 2012. We are in a new space now, which means we need a new approach to avoid the mistakes of the past.

"We need to ask ourselves hard questions about areas where we need to improve. This includes looking at how we can increase productivity levels among our indigenous SMEs.

"It also means removing barriers that are stopping people from returning to the workforce in a time when we are seeing constraints in certain sectors of the labour market.

"As we reach full employment, our focus needs to adjust from getting people back to work to ensuring that we are creating sustainable jobs."

Based around a number of pillars, Future Jobs 2019 will focus on approximately 20 targeted actions. The following five themes form the basis of discussions at today's Summit:

• Productivity: While Ireland enjoys high overall productivity levels, which is the key to long run economic success, some sectors and many of our smaller firms are lagging behind. How can we work with indigenous SMEs to increase their productivity? Overall, how can we make them more competitive?

• Innovation & Technology: How do we prepare for and exploit technological change in the transition to a digital economy? To name just one challenge in this area, a recent OECD study estimated that the average Irish worker faced a 46 per cent probability of being automated by the 2030s. 

• Skills & Talent: Where will our future pool of workers come from and how can we help our workers develop new skills? According to an OECD report on Adult Skills from 2016, for example, 57% of adults in Ireland have no ICT skills or have only the skills necessary to fulfil the simplest set of tasks in a technology rich environment.

• Participation: How can we encourage greater workforce participation - in entrepreneurship as well as in employment? While we are undoubtedly improving in this area with the overall participation rate at 62% since 2012, there is still scope to increase rates among certain groups. One such group is mothers, who might like to return to the workforce but are concerned about issues like childcare.

• Low Carbon Economy: How can enterprises innovate and adapt to succeed in a low carbon economy? The transition to low carbon will cost money now but ultimately save money in the long run. It will also create jobs and new economic opportunities over time, and we need to explore how we can better support businesses in this space.

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform Paschal Donohoe TD commented: "The Irish economy has transformed entirely over the course of this decade, from the grasp of a crippling recession at its beginning, to becoming the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone as it closes. While our economic recovery has been remarkable, we cannot be complacent about Ireland's future success and presume it will be plain sailing from here on. The work we begin here today will pay off down the line. By putting our energy into the Future Jobs programme, we can keep Ireland in a prime position with a smart, optimised and carefully planned out economy."

Minister John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development added: "This is an important opportunity for our key stakeholders to engage with the Future Jobs initiative. Innovation plays a central role in driving productivity growth and fostering competitiveness in a global economy and society where research and its application is critical to success. Areas of focus identified today will ensure Ireland continues to develop its innovation, research and development eco-system."

Minister Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection said: "As Minister with responsibility for the EU Digital Single Market, I am acutely aware of the impact that technological advances are having on enterprise development and the world of work. The Future Jobs Summit will help us in creating the framework we need to ensure that Ireland continues its path of economic growth."

Future Jobs is a whole-of-Government plan, which will operate on a multi-annual basis starting in early 2019. In this context, the Summit will also be attended by Ministers Bruton, McHugh, Mitchell O'Connor, Breen and Doyle, who will chair break-out sessions with stakeholders on those themes relevant to their portfolios.


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