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Government’s new plan to answer future needs of businesses and workers

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 4:36pm

This week saw the launch of a major new Government initiative designed to avoid the mistakes of the past and mitigate against the major economic risks that face Ireland in the years ahead.

Future Jobs Ireland is a new plan to secure Ireland’s economic success, according to the Government. Launched last Sunday, it complements Project Ireland 2040 and Global Ireland 2025 as whole-of-Government strategies charting an ambitious course for Ireland’s future development.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys and Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe all launched Future Jobs Ireland 2019: Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy.

Future Jobs Ireland 2019 is the first in a series of annual reports, which outlines the Government’s longer-term ambitions for the future of the economy, under five key pillars:

- embracing innovation and technological change

- improving SME productivity

- enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent

- increasing participation in the workforce

- transitioning to a low carbon economy

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Future Jobs Ireland sets out to respond to future risks. We want Irish people to benefit from the changes already happening in the world of technology, artificial intelligence and robotics, and the move to a low-carbon economy.

“I want Ireland to be a country that works to live, not lives to work. Businesses need to consider new ways of attracting and retaining talent through remote and flexible working options: women as well as men can get the job done. So that people living in rural areas can work for Google, Facebook and Apple without having to commute to Cork city or Dublin. We need to see lifelong learning as the norm so we are adaptable to new technology and sectors. And, today we are announcing that we have committed to doubling our lifelong learning rate to 18 per cent by 2025.

“Ireland is one of the most attractive places for foreign direct investment. But the next phase of our national development should be Irish-owned SMEs succeeding at home and then going global. By confronting head-on the challenges we face in the world of work, we can ensure we are able to prosper from the transformations that are coming. We can face the future with confidence because of the preparations we have made today.”

The Government say Future Jobs Ireland is about supporting business and also investing in the development of people.

They add that flexible working and lifelong learning is not only good for businesses and employers, it can also be good for the wellbeing of employees. That is why Future Jobs Ireland 2019 will include initiatives such as:

- a national consultation on the extension of flexible working options to all employees and commencing a strategy for remote working

- developing a public service to assist people returning to work, particularly mothers;

incentivising employers to provide early learning and care facilities

- reviewing income tax arrangements for second earners to incentivise people to return to work

- encouraging employers to use all the available talent through greater employment of underrepresented groups of people e.g. those with disabilities, older people, and women in certain age cohorts

- doubling participation in lifelong learning by 2025

- developing training for emerging technologies

- providing career advice to existing workers and

- ensuring our education and training system is responsive to enterprise needs

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys said that Future Jobs Ireland was focused on sustaining high quality jobs.

“There are 390,000 more people at work since the start of 2012. As we approach full employment, it is now time to shift our jobs focus. It is no longer just a question of more jobs, instead we must focus on growing highly productive and skilled people creating and working in highly productive and sustainable businesses.”

“While Future Jobs Ireland 2019 is a national framework, it will have a regional impact. For example, the strategy sees the country becoming a leading pioneer in technology adoption and testing and sets out higher ambitions for our research, development and innovation especially by SMEs.

“Crucially, it will expand or develop technology test beds in regional locations. It also includes the establishment of an advanced manufacturing centre by IDA Ireland and expanding the Tyndall National Institute in Cork to provide greater engagement with industry in areas like micro and nano-electronics.

“Ireland has a hard-earned reputation as a location of choice for FDI. As we move forward, we want to ensure that our reputation is equally as strong in terms of our support of indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs. Through Future Jobs Ireland, we will enhance the powers of our Local Enterprise Offices to ensure that any gaps in supports for indigenous businesses are addressed. We want to ensure that all ambitious Irish companies, regardless of size, are supported.”

Future Jobs Ireland 2019 aims to:

- establish ‘top teams’ to exploit opportunities beginning with renewables, artificial intelligence, and govtech

- position Ireland as a leader in the testing of autonomous vehicles on roads

- develop a national artificial intelligence strategy

- develop ‘transition teams’ to help enterprises and workers to develop and prepare for the challenges ahead

- strengthen the powers of Local Enterprise Offices

- deliver a new female entrepreneurship strategy

- deliver new and important policies including an Industry 4.0 Strategy and a national digital strategy

- encourage clusters of mutually-supporting foreign and Irish owned businesses along with greater linkages between these two sectors

- develop investment funding to scale up Irish businesses

- establish regional clusters bringing togethers SMEs and ITs to drive job creation

Future Jobs Ireland 2019 will also complement the forthcoming All of Government Climate Plan. Pillar 5 explores the potential of the low carbon economy and the particular regional economic and employment implications as the economy changes.

The Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohue said: “Future Jobs Ireland represents an important milestone in Ireland’s progress out of recovery mode and into a stage of continued and sustainable economic growth.

Dynamic forces operating at a global level, such as increased technological change and the need for greater climate adaptation, have the potential to radically reshape the economic landscape both here in Ireland and for our trading partners across the globe. Future Jobs Ireland focuses policy on successfully adapting to these developments, which is crucial in order for Ireland to remain an attractive location as we compete for international business and investment.”

Future Jobs Ireland 2019 has been informed by extensive engagement across Government Departments and with stakeholders.

This consultation culminated in the Future Jobs Summit which took place on 22 November attended by more than 160 stakeholders with six breakout sessions, each chaired by a minister.

This stakeholder engagement will continue and throughout the course of 2019, Government departments will work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop further deliverables for inclusion in Future Jobs Ireland 2020.

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