NewsShaping Ireland’s Economic Future

March 16, 2019

Future Jobs Ireland 2019 Report

The Future Jobs Ireland 2019 report was released late last week, and it is a report that was expected in the industry to show the variety of new measures in how employment will alter and evolve. While the economy is a good position and recovering well from the recession, there is still work to be done to improve on current statistics. In early 2012, the unemployment rate was 16% and almost 50,000 Irish people emigrated that year. However, eight years on, the unemployment rate was down to 5.7% at the end of 2018. Furthermore, almost 2.28 million people are working, and forced emigration has ended. The aim will be to boost labour force participation from 75pc to 78pc of working-age adults by 2025, with a reduction below 6pc targeted for youth unemployment.

The construction industry has seen some hard times regarding vulnerabilities in the sector including reduced workforce and skills deficits. Labour availability has been an increasing issue and with the looming Brexit there have been questions raised over trading systems and economic welfare. The Government has promised to pay attention and is striving to build upon current progress and deliver a higher quality of life and living standards. With Project Ireland 2040 in progress, the Government are initialising ways to strengthen Ireland’s position as a good place to do business and influence talent to remain in the country.

The Future Jobs Ireland is about ensuring enterprises and workers will be able to improve and thrive in a fast-paced and changeable economy in not only Ireland, but in the global economy too. The growing trend of technology is starting to catch on and businesses are changing their way of working just as consumers are altering their way of buying. By 2025, the report advises that workers and enterprises will be operating in a changed economy. The abilities of technology heralds’ new opportunities and while there will be several challenges for businesses, the outlook is positive.

There may be a need to redefine or alter current roles within certain sectors but for the construction industry, a huge changing factor is the growth in modular buildings and BIM technology. The construction sector productivity in the sector has been low and it is worrying. The report highlighted the skills gaps and shortages in the sector as widely reported. It also looked at the measures to boost the increased use of building information management systems across the sector. In the report, the Government addresses the issues and plans to develop actions to stimulate construction sector productivity, including greater deployment of Building Information Modelling (BIM). The report acknowledges how specific technologies encourage improved technology saying that the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) would cultivate productivity improvements in the construction sector. It mentions how new approaches for improvement should be identified as technologies should be exploited.  

As a whole, we are seeing enhanced and cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Data Analytics, the Internet of Things and blockchain. These technologies will enable and help companies to co-innovate and advance in solutions for application areas such as MarineTech, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, Advanced Manufacturing, AgriFoodTech, and Smart Cities.

New immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality are transforming how we view and experience the world and fundamentally changing and enhancing products and services with digital content. Disruptive technologies impact on industries and markets which enhance storytelling and help in captivating audiences. Furthermore, AI is currently impacting on transport, social media, security and finance to name a few. Ireland is well positioned to be a leader in this area and will develop a National AI Strategy which will ensure research centres, businesses and the public sector exploit AI technologies to secure greater levels of productivity and wellbeing.

We are living at a time when a vision is being made to be more “green” and “eco-friendly” which is inspiring and smart. Climate change awareness is growing, and it is being tackled more than ever before. In fact, the Government is hoping for a move into a low-carbon economy that will instigate change and offer the economy more opportunities. As with the environment, we can’t ignore the need to alter to allow for new jobs and positions. The construction industry needs to pay attention to enabling future jobs and incentives to enter the sector.

According to the Sunday Independent, the Government aims to double the retrofitting of homes with insulation to 50,000 a year as part of its plans to boost productivity in the construction sector. Furthermore, the Government aims to see the public sector become a leader in technology adoption and innovation as part of the five-pillar plan for Future Jobs Ireland 2019. The report also sets a target for the sector to retrofit 250,000 homes by 2025 as part of plans to respond to climate change. There will be the development of a new smart-grid portal, the commencement of the rollout of smart-grid meters by the ESB and an expansion of public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles by 200 to help grow the number of EVs to over 10,000.

According to the report, less than half the population has basic or above basic digital skills, which is well behind the EU average. The Government sets about targeting certain segments of the population while increasing training opportunities to ensure that Ireland remains relevant in terms of digital transformation. The report shares a series of measures to boost the productivity of SMEs and how to guard against an overdependence on foreign direct investment in the economy, particularly from US companies.

The report also focuses on ensuring quality jobs that will be resilient into the future. And it isn’t just a question of more jobs, but enabling the creation of highly productive, sustainable jobs. Shifting the old model of the way people work is another topic in the report as it is advised that Ireland needs to increase labour market participation. It needs to provide high quality and timely education and training responses to evolve in enterprise and skills.  Promote work experience for young people as the construction industry needs to attract talent in this area and focus on bringing more young people into the sector.

Government and enterprise have important roles to play to encourage, develop and adopt innovative technologies, products and services that increase efficiencies, reduce waste and deliver sustainable development as economies across the world transition to low carbon, bio and circular economies.

The pillars identified for Future Jobs Ireland 2019 are:

  • Embracing Innovation and Technological Change
  • Improving SME Productivity
  • Enhancing Skills and Developing and Attracting Talent
  • Increasing Participation in the Labour Force
  • Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy  

Additional or more specific pillars may emerge or be replaced over time as it is uncertain at this time as to how things will progress. Presently, an extra one million people are projected to be living in Ireland by 2040, of which 660,000 people are expected to be employed. It will be vital to adapt to such changes in the working environment.  

The EIB also found that, almost 40% of traditional Irish indigenous companies completely lack digital assets (digitally content that comes with a right to use it such as software, databases, logos, media files, presentations and domain names). As a result, Ireland lags in these areas. The construction industry too, needs to be aware of these developments. Embracing the technologies is advisable but not just in a technical sense, a more practical approach too, is needed. This may mean protecting assets in the digital sense as mentioned above such as investing in software’s, people and of course, talent.

The world is changing folks, and no island or industry is immune to such change. Are there any particular challenges that your industry or sector is facing, that are not provided for in this?  If so, contact me on to discuss.

Carol Tallon