Check Against Delivery
Good afternoon, everyone.
It’s a pleasure to be here with Minister Humphreys and Minister Donohoe and to launch Future Jobs.
I think it’s fitting that we are launching Future Jobs here because the story of the evolution of CHQ from a warehouse storing tobacco, teas and spirits in the 19th century to a dynamic retail, innovation and cultural hub in the 21st is a living example of the way we can adapt successfully to change.
At Dogpatch we see how new ideas thrive in historic settings. Over the past eight years, it has become Ireland’s largest start-up hub and is an keystone in our technology ecosystem.
Its success speaks to our ambition to make Ireland the tech capital of Europe. We see it also in the work being done by Government-funded research centres such as ADAPT, which provided us with today’s talking robot, transforming the world of digital content.
Ireland is nearing full employment. We have never had so many people at work, in education, or taking on apprenticeships. As a result, living standards are rising and poverty and deprivation rates are falling. People have worked hard over the last eight years and should be proud of how far they have taken our country. But it cannot be taken for granted. There is no room for complacency. Ireland has made that mistake before and we won’t make it again.
We know that even the most benign Brexit deal will be inferior to the current relationship. We also know that:
However, it is not enough to recognise those challenges. We must act.
That’s what Future Jobs is all about.
It sets out a policy shift to increase the number of quality jobs so we will have better living standards. Sustainable jobs, less vulnerable to loss. Future Jobs Ireland shatters any complacency and sets out an agenda to respond to future risks.
What I think is especially significant is that we are making sure we benefit from the changes that are already happening in the world of technology, artificial intelligence and robotics, and the move to a low-carbon economy.
Sometimes complacency can take root when an economy is performing well. Hard won success can be taken for granted and risks and opportunities overlooked. Eight years ago, economic matters dominated our public affairs, today they rarely feature in public discourse. Precisely because there are multiple opportunities now, we need to decide on how we prioritise our resources, our talent and our investment.
Future Jobs Ireland plans for future developments and it also encourages public debate about our economic direction and what we need to do to maintain sustainable growth and quality jobs for this generation and the next.
If we are to have the economy and society we want in 2025 – low carbon, high productivity, high tech, family friendly, globally traded and competitive, we need to create the environment where that is possible.
So, as a country 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% by 2025.
Businesses also 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.
I want Ireland to be a country that works to live, not lives to work.
Every generation needs to shake up its enterprise and jobs model, otherwise it stagnates. We need to change the way we work.
Future Jobs Ireland places a strong focus on increasing productivity and boosting participation rates so we can take advantage of technological changes and embed them in all parts of our economy. It also ensures that we will continue
to enhance the skills of Irish workers as we move quickly to the low-carbon economy.
I believe, this strategy provides an ambitious framework for the future of Irish jobs.
We have an opportunity to boost the productivity of our domestically owned SMEs and we must take it. Today, Ireland enjoys a reputation as one of the most attractive places for Foreign Direct Investment. By 2025 I want us to have a similar reputation as the home of dynamic, high achieving, Irish owned SMEs with a talented and adapted workforce. This is the next phase of our national development. Irish owned SMEs succeeding at home and then going global.
To quote Marie Curie, ‘the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.’ However if we plan now, we can make it easier.
Future Jobs offers a new direction in how we plan for the economy of the 21st century.
It is bold, it is ambitious, and it is achievable.
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.