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Future Jobs – Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy

To ensure Ireland's economy is well positioned to adapt and prosper in the future, the Government has decided that we need a new economic pathway for Ireland based on increased productivity and labour market participation, innovation and skills and talent. Future Jobs will drive our development as a resilient, innovative, and globally connected economy, capable of coping with technological and other transformational changes ahead.

The Irish economy is performing strongly with unemployment at its lowest levels for years. We should be proud of the progress we have made but serious problems persist while new ones emerge. Vulnerabilities in the domestic economy such as low productivity levels in indigenous firms and growing uncertainty in the global economy threaten our economic welfare.

While the Government have comprehensively developed strategies which address many of these key challenges, we must avoid complacency and prepare for an uncertain future. We need to be innovative in our approach and effectively tackle long-standing structural issues, capture new areas of opportunity and position Ireland for sustainable growth.

Automation, Artificial Intelligence and other forms of technological innovation are rapidly developing and are expected to radically change many jobs, enterprises, and even entire sectors.

We must also ensure our economy is well positioned to adapt to a low-carbon future and a revolution in digitalisation, otherwise we could see very negative economic and employment impacts in the future.

The Government has recognised the need for a concrete and co-ordinated plan to address these challenges and to capture opportunities. On 18 July, it agreed to the development of the Future Jobs Programme. This will be a whole of government approach with concrete and ambitious actions to enhance productivity, create quality and sustainable jobs, and build a resilient and innovative economy.

The Future Jobs Initiative will be organised around five pillars including

  • improving productivity of SMEs;
  • increasing labour market participation;
  • innovation;
  • skills and talent; and
  • the low carbon and digital economies.

2019 will see approximately 20 impactful and deliverable actions that will enhance the resilience of our economy and ensure we are well placed to exploit future economic opportunities.

Future Jobs Summit

This Department, in partnership with the Department of an Taoiseach, is leading this whole of Government effort to develop the Future Jobs Initiative including extensive consultation. The centrepiece of this consultation was a Future Jobs Summit which was held in Aviva Stadium on 22 November 2018. The purpose of the summit was to bring together key stakeholders from academia, Government, industry, representative bodies, semi-State bodies and other interested parties with a view to exchanging ideas about the design of and to provide input to Future Jobs and its emerging programme of actions. A more detailed summary on the summit is available below.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, opened the summit highlighting the economic and societal imperative for Future Jobs.

An Taoiseach was followed by two keynote speakers who spoke on the topics of productivity and economy of the future, respectively. The first speaker was Mr Luiz de Mello, Director of the Policy Studies Branch, OECD. He gave a presentation entitled ‘Productivity challenges in the OECD and Ireland’, available below. The second speaker was Ms Julie Spillane, Accenture. She gave a presentation entitled ‘Ireland’s Future Economy – Technology, Talent and Emerging Opportunities’, available below. Both speakers then partook in a panel discussion fielding questions from summit attendees.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, introduced the next phase of Ireland’s economic development, Future Jobs. Minister Humphreys announced the themes of individual breakout sessions in which attendees could participate. Each of the sessions was facilitated by a Minister. Ministers then participated in a panel discussion drawing together the main points raised during the breakout sessions. The theme for each breakout session, the points raised and the corresponding Minister that facilitated were as follows: 

Session: Increasing the Productivity of Irish SMEs

Facilitated by: Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD

  1. Value Chain – Irish SMEs need to move up the value chain this could be achieved by opting to offshore low value work as a means of adding value to their business or service;
  2. Collaboration – there needs to be great collaboration between SMEs and MNCs especially in area of mutual benefits where clustering occurs, e.g. RD&I, similar to the Disruptive Technologies initiative;
  3. Finance – Need for greater new sources of capital outside of the traditional banking sector, e.g. venture capital as a source of investment; and
  4. Education – Improve financial management skills within SMEs and the provision of mentoring to SMEs to improve management skills.

Session: Maximising the Contribution of Multinational Enterprises to the Irish Economy into the Future

Facilitated by: Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD

  1. Investment – Continued attraction and support of FDI into the country is still seen as essential and ‘Big Bet’ investment as a means of differentiating and creating a unique selling point;
  2. Education – A high-level working group to perform a training gap analysis of future needs and the provision of sufficient investment to educational institutions to host the required training interventions as identified in the gap analysis;
  3. Value Chain – Further integration of SME into the value chain for the mutual benefit of SME and MNC to be facilitated by placement of R&D staff in companies and establishment of a forum to explore the needs and capabilities of SMEs;
  4. Incentivisation – Improved incentivisation for entrepreneurs to promote, attract and retain talent. Additional incentives for MNC to outsource RD&I to SMEs will have the dual function of increasing RD&I and integration of value chains; and
  5. Flexibility - Increased workplace flexibility will improve workforce participation.   

Session: Ensuring we have the Necessary Talent and Skills for the Future

Facilitated: Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD

  1. Flexibility – Adopt a philosophy of life-long learning which will encourage the ability to adapt to new demands of the future skills markets and organisations should embrace different working patterns which will promote increased participation rates;
  2. Dynamism – Similar to the business world, educational institutions should have medium and long terms plans which will cater for future business needs which will in-turn promote adaptability in the skills market; and
  3. Extra-Curricular Activities – the provision of extra-curricular activities at secondary levels to encourage learning across a greater range of interests and sectors. 

Session: Increasing out Labour Market Participation Rates

Facilitated by: Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD

  1. Support structures – Individuals, such as mothers or carers, returning to work may require additional supports to help build confidence. Individual joining the workforce or returning to the workforce after a prolonged absence may require supports to address skills obsolescence;
  2. Barriers – Removal or mitigation of existing barriers to returning to workforce for employers in apprenticeships and employees returning to work e.g. expense of childcare
  3. Flexibility – Increased workplace flexibility will improve workforce participation 

Session: Innovating and Transitioning to the Digital and Low Carbon Economies

Facilitated by: Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD

  1. Perception – This initiative is perceived in two contrasting ways as being potential disruptive and as providing huge opportunities;
  2. Funding – Rather than competitive all-or-nothing funding as under Climate Action fund adopt a system of challenge-based funding system which is evaluated on the extent a challenge is accomplished;
  3. Networking solutions – Promote the formation of partnership networks across enterprise, public sector and wider society, similar to a current system in the SEAI, but with the addition of delegating educational institutions to develop a suite of creative solutions;
  4. Education – The current teacher-student relationship is not properly equipped to nurture and develop the required competencies to assist with transitioning, rather we should nurture talent in people who are already at ease and familiar with such technology; and
  5. Incentivisation – Rather than use the narrow traditional method of subsidy there is a need to design a smart and affordable system of incentives that will motivate, change attitudes and depart from mere financial reward or mitigation of taxation. 

Session: Balanced Development across Ireland

Facilitated by: Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD

  1. Sectors: Agri-food and Marine seen as best sectors for development;
  2. Regional bias: Promotion of regions as locations for MNCs;
  3. Human Capital: Improve digital infrastructure as a method of increasing workplace participation rates and granting of more work permits; and
  4. Finance: Increased access to investment to support the growth of small businesses. 

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, spoke about the significance of framework agreements such as Future Jobs and that he was looking forward to working with Minister Humphreys and her team before formally closing the summit. 

Future Jobs – Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy

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