SFA participates in Future Jobs Summit

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, officially launched the Government’s Future Jobs strategy at the summit on 22 November. This involved consultation between the Taoiseach, six government ministers and 160 stakeholders including the SFA, to plan for future job creation.


A recent OECD study estimates that there is a 46% probability rate that the average worker's job will be automated by the 2030s. This will pose significant challenges for the future of work if it is not addressed today.


Leo Varadkar stated in his speech that: “today’s school children will be doing jobs that don’t currently exist”. He also highlighted and emphasised the need for lifelong learning when he stated that:


It’s no good telling a man or a woman, who has driven a truck for the past thirty years, that there are opportunities elsewhere in the economy in something called ‘big data’. We have to prepare them earlier in their lives for that change, training them for opportunities in logistics or in the broader economy, embedding the idea of life long learning”.


Speaking on the rising productivity gap between high performing firms, many of which are foreign owned and the rest of the economy, in particular small indigenous firms, he stated that Foreign Direct Investment: “will continue to [be] the cornerstone of Irish enterprise policy, we need to more deeply embed this sector in our wider economy, and improve productivity performance across other companies. We need more home-grown companies growing jobs.”


Following on from the Taoiseach’s speech, Luiz de Mello, Director of the Policy Studies Branch at the Economics Department of the OECD, spoke about Ireland’s productivity. He highlighted that it is essential for growth but that it has dropped in Ireland from 2.5% in the 1970s down to 1% today. He also spoke of the low start up rate for new businesses in Ireland. This is currently lower than other OECD countries but the churn rate, which means those exiting from business, is also lower.


Julie Spillane, Director of Accenture The Dock, took the audience through technology, talent and emerging opportunities. She stated that 85% of jobs in the 2030s have not been invented yet and whilst technology is rapidly changing with big data, AI (Artificial Intelligence), the Internet of Things, the need for more human centric skills will be crucial in the future. She estimated that the average worker will have five different careers and twenty different jobs in their lifetime. She emphasised the importance of lifelong learning to meet these challenges and to develop what she calls the “growth mindset”. She advised that adaptability will be an essential key skill in the future of work. In closing, she stated that 15% of procurement from multi-nationals is provided for by local Irish firms and she advised that local firms must be in a position to provide the multinational with what they need but also to be in a position to provide goods or services on a global scale, not just locally if needed. 


Each of the six ministers chaired a breakout session and SFA attended the session on 'maximising the contribution of multinational enterprises to the Irish economy into the future'. Minister Pat Breen asked the SFA for their input on how we can increase spill overs between FDI and the domestic economy, what lessons can Irish SMEs learn from multinationals and how can we become more integrated into the value chain?


When each of the breakout groups convened, the outputs from each breakout session were shared to the wider group. The outputs included the following:

  • Increase productivity amongst SMEs and look at new ways on how this can be achieved
  • Prepare now for future technological changes
  • Create a culture of lifelong learning
  • Create a more inclusive and flexible labour market
  • Increase participation rates through flexible working arrangements for women, older workers and those with disabilities

The Taoiseach and the ministers each assured the audience that they are committed to this strategy and further consultation will take place with stakeholders. The future jobs strategy will focus on five themes which are:

  • Increasing Productivity, especially among Irish SMEs
  • Skills and Talent
  • Innovation and Technology
  • The Low Carbon Economy
  • Increasing Participation in the Labour Market

You can learn more about Future Jobs here and we will continue to keep you updated on developments as they arise.


If you have any thoughts or contributions on any of the points raised in this article please contact Helen Quinn on 01 605 1668 or helen.quinn@sfa.ie

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SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
FAQs for the Christmas break – annual leave and public holidays
Local Government (Rates) Bill 2018 published
SFA participates in Future Jobs Summit
Survey finds 68% of Irish CEOs have started to mitigate against potential impact of Brexit
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Business in Ireland 2016 - Small and Medium Enterprises
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