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Ministers Humphreys and Bruton host consultation forum on remote working as part of Future Jobs Ireland

  • Future Jobs Ireland is a whole-of-Government plan to prepare our workers and businesses for the future.

  • Increasing participation in the labour force is a key priority in the plan, with a focus on flexible working solutions and affordable childcare services.

  • The Forum will inform research that the Department is undertaking on remote working, which will feed into new Government policy in the area.

Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, today hosted a consultation forum on remote working. The event, which was attended by enterprise, academia, policymakers and relevant interest groups, included a keynote address from Ben Wainwright of Abodoo.

The Forum was undertaken as part of Future Jobs Ireland, the whole-of-Government plan to prepare our business and workers for the future. The aim of the forum was to provide key insights for a new piece of research on remote working, which will ultimately feed into new Government policy in the area.

The research will seek to understand the prevalence and types of remote working arrangements within the Irish workforce, the attitudes towards such arrangements, and the factors which influence employers and employees to partake in such arrangements.

Pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland is focused on increasing participation in the labour force. Flexible working solutions, such as remote working, could improve labour market participation, particularly among parents with young children, as well as those with caring responsibilities, older people and people with disabilities. Under this Pillar, further actions are being progressed, including the provision of high-quality and affordable childcare services and improving incentives to participate in the labour force.

Minister Humphreys said:“As we approach full employment, there is no doubt that increasing labour force participation will be good for the economy. However, this isn’t just about the economy; it’s also about the wellbeing of our people. We spend a huge proportion of our lives at work and striking a sustainable work-life balance can often be challenging, particularly for workers who have long commutes.

“Productivity for workers should never be about working more for less. It should be about working better for more. That’s why, as part of Future Jobs Ireland, we are developing new Government policy on remote working.”

Discussing the benefits of remote working, the Minister added:

“The world of work is changing and technological and digital advances present us with new opportunities, particularly in rural Ireland. Remote working can breathe life into our towns and villages right across the country by allowing people to work and live where they’re from. It can also take pressure off our cities and bring environmental benefits with reduced commuting times.

“We need to consider, for example, whether people can work more effectively if they have the opportunity to work from home. Perhaps they will be able to spend more time with their families if they don’t have to commute to the office every day. Or maybe flexible working hours will help those with young children return to the workforce.

“It’s clear that employers can also benefit from having a flexible, happier and more productive workforce, but are there any barriers getting in the way, and can we remove those barriers? These are the questions we are asking stakeholders as we set out to develop new Government policy in the area.”

Minister Bruton said:“High speed connectivity will transform opportunities in rural Ireland. It will drive entirely new models of service in Health, in Education and in Enterprise that will help communities to carve out new economic activities. People will work remotely, receive services in their own homes, have access to technologies that make for smarter living, smarter learning, smarter farming and smarter business. It is a critical foundation for decarbonising our way of life and rebuilding the vibrancy and diversity of rural communities.”

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Additional Information for Editors:

Remote Work in Ireland Key Stakeholder Consultation Forum Programme

Cavan Digital Hub, Cavan – 18 July 2019

9:30: Registration / Coffee and Networking

10:00: Introduction - Alan Nuzum, Alan R Nuzum & Associates; Address by Marcella Rudden, Head of Enterprise, Cavan LEO

10:10: Address by Minister Heather Humphreys, T.D. Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation

10:20: Keynote Presentation by Ben Wainwright, cofounder, Abodoo

10:40: Address by Minister Richard Bruton T.D. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment

10:50: Presentation on Future Jobs Ireland Remote Work Research by Ruth Morrissy, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

11:00: Introduction to Stakeholder Consultation Forum by Alan Nuzum

11:10: Facilitated Stakeholder Consultation Forum

12:40: Feedback and Summation by Alan Nuzum, Alan R Nuzum & Associates 

Research on Remote Working by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

This research falls under Ambition 4.2 (i) : Foster Participation in the Labour Force through flexible working solutions. Deliverable 1 under this ambition is what the remote working consultation forum refers to. It calls for the Department to ‘undertake research on the prevalence and types of remote working arrangements within the Irish workforce, and the attitudes towards such working arrangements, as well as the factors which inhibit employers and employees to partake in such arrangements.’ This action is being led by DBEI under the guidance of an Interdepartmental Steering Committee.

The results arising from the Remote Working Consultation Forum will feed into a cohesive and meaningful research paper. This research will be completed by Q4 and will be published once finalized.

Future Jobs Ireland

Future Jobs Ireland is a Government of Ireland initiative with deliverables assigned across a range of Government Departments and agencies. Future Jobs Ireland incorporates five pillars as set out below (along with some illustrative examples): 

  1. Embracing innovation and technological change – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that promote and enable RD&I among enterprise; encourage digitalisation; and support the development and adoption of technology.
  2. Improving SME productivity – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that enhance productivity, especially among SMEs; promote indigenous entrepreneurship, especially in the regions; encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned firms; and assist businesses to move up the value chain.
  3. Enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that enhance Ireland’s human capital offering, including in areas such as ICT and management skills; develop Irelands’ vocational and third level institutions; improve Lifelong Learning rates, and ETB initiatives that enable disadvantaged groups to return to the workforce.
  4. Increasing participation in the labour force – this includes supports, policies or initiatives focused on improving labour market participation, especially among young people, older workers, women and people with disabilities; improving the supply and cost of childcare; enabling more flexible working arrangements; and streamlining immigration procedures.
  5. Transitioning to a low carbon economy – this includes supports, policies or initiatives aimed at expanding renewable energy generation; retrofitting of buildings to improve energy efficiency; roll-out of electric vehicles; and enterprise / employment opportunities in the green/circular/bio economy.

Each Pillar sets high level targets for 2025. Overall, Future Jobs Ireland 2019 includes 26 meaningful and impactful ambitions supported by 127 deliverables for completion in 2019.

Central to Future Jobs Ireland is a re-orientation of policy from the numbers of gross jobs created in the economy, to the creation of more productive and sustainable jobs. It will focus on the challenges ahead in terms of ensuring we have skilled people working in quality jobs in sustainable sectors. Future Jobs Ireland will also ensure our enterprises and workers are well positioned to adapt to the technological and other transformational changes our economy and society will face in the years ahead.

Future Jobs Ireland Pillar 4

The Remote Working Research Paper is a deliverable under Pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland.

Pillar 4 is focused on increasing participation in the labour force. Future Jobs Ireland is engaging with the challenges we face in relation to participation in the labour force by developing and implementing a range of measures aimed at easing barriers to entry into the workforce. This includes deliverables relating to:

  • intelligent working arrangements (flexible and remote working);
  • childcare provision;
  • reducing disincentives for those who wish to work longer; and
  • targeting certain cohorts through the Public Employment Service
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