News & Events

Government launches Future Jobs Ireland to answer the future needs of our businesses and workers

  • As we approach full employment, how do we ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and avoid complacency when it comes to the major economic risks that face Ireland in the years ahead?

  • How do we prepare workers and enterprises for the inevitable technological changes coming and the move to a low carbon economy?

  • How do we increase the productivity of our SME sector?

  • How do we ensure that there is the right work-life balance, so that higher participation levels in the workforce are achieved?

  • Future Jobs Ireland is a new whole-of Government plan to secure Ireland’s economic success. 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 TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Sunday, 10 March) launched Future Jobs Ireland 2019: Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy, a new, whole-of-Government framework for the next phase of Ireland’s economic development.

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 & Developing and Attracting Talent
  • Increasing Participation in the Workforce
  • Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said: “People have worked hard over the last eight years and should be proud of how far they have taken our country.  But there is no room for complacency. 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.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, at the launch of Future Jobs Ireland 2019

“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% 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.”

Future Jobs Ireland is about supporting business but also investing in the development of people. The world of work is changing. Advancing technology means society is always ‘on’. Connectivity and greater accessibility is changing the way people work. This comes with negatives and positives. We must take the opportunity to exploit the positives that technology can bring for our country and take on the negatives. 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 TD, emphasised 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.”

Minister Heather Humphreys at the launch of Future Jobs Ireland 2019

“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. This includes extending the EI/IDA Irish Manufacturing Research Technology Centre in Mullingar to accommodate Cobotics and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies. 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. Furthermore, among other things, we will be developing a National Centre of Excellence on High Performance and Nearly Zero Energy Buildings in Wexford and positioning the Mid-West as a leader internationally as a location for the testing of autonomous vehicles.

“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.”

In this regard 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;
  • Improve leadership and management capabilities in our businesses. 

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 Donohoe 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. This policy framework establishes a strategic whole-of-government approach to identify and address emerging challenges to Ireland’s economic development.

Minister Paschal Donohoe at the launch of Future Jobs Ireland 2019

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.

I particularly welcome the ambitions set out in Future Jobs Ireland to achieve greater productivity in our Irish-owned and SME sectors and to increase participation and skill levels in the labour force. These measures will improve living standards for all our citizens through higher growth in economic output and incomes, ensure the future efficiency and competitiveness of Ireland’s enterprise base, and help safeguard stability in the public finances and the wider economy.”

Welcoming the approach of Future Jobs Ireland 2019, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD said, “The provision of targeted and timely educational and training interventions is a cornerstone of Future Jobs Ireland. This will ensure that young people are equipped with the right set of skills as they transition from education to the work force and can contribute in the high technology economy of the future.”

He added, “Innovation is another key aspect of the Future Jobs Ireland 2019 agenda. In 2019, increasing innovation and supporting technological change will be driven by increasing investment in Research and Development. Future Jobs Ireland 2019 also endeavours to develop Ireland as a centre for developing and testing new technologies in specific areas of opportunity, for example through the planned establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing Centre, the expansion of the Tyndall National Institute and commencing the development of a National Design Centre.”

Referring to the emphasis in Future Jobs Ireland 2019 of preparing workers for the changes ahead Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD said, “I am keenly aware that international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation have highlighted the need for countries across the world to prepare their workers for the impact ahead in light of new and potentially disruptive technological developments. Future Jobs Ireland 2019 underscores the importance of lifelong learning in ensuring that our workers’ skillsets stay relevant and valued.” Minister Breen added, “As Minister with responsibility for the digital single market I also particularly welcome the deliverables in the digital space such as the development of a national AI strategy and the establishment of a Top Team on AI later this year”.

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 2018 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.


Future Jobs Ireland 2019 Report

For further information, contact:

Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, 01-631 2200 or 0871255572

Notes to Editors Section

Future Jobs Ireland 2019, is the first in a series of annual reports as part of a multi-annual framework. Future Jobs Ireland outlines longer-term ambitions for the future of the economy out until 2025 taking account of the challenges ahead. Each year, Future Jobs Ireland will set out the steps to deliver on the ambitions with the ultimate goal of increasing the resilience of our economy and future-proofing it.

Each of the Five Pillars of Future Jobs Ireland has high level targets for 2025. Future Jobs Ireland includes 26 meaningful and impactful ambitions which contain 127 deliverables (actions) for completion in 2019. Each deliverable has a quantifiable output, a lead Department and timeframe.

In terms of implementation, Future Jobs Ireland will be a standing agenda item overseen by Cabinet Committee A. Progress on deliverables will be reported quarterly to the Senior Official Group. Biannually, more detailed progress reports will be made to Government and subsequently published.

Key deliverables for 2019 under each pillar include:

Pillar 1: Embracing Innovation and Technological Change

  • Deliver important policy initiatives including an Industry 4.0 Strategy, a National Digital Strategy, and a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy
  • Form Top Teams to progress areas of opportunity for Ireland beginning with Artificial Intelligence, GovTech and Offshore Renewables
  • Develop Ireland as a centre for developing and testing new technologies by, for example:
    • extending the EI/IDA Irish Manufacturing Research Additive Manufacturing technology centre to include cobotics and AR/VR,
    • progressing the Advanced Manufacturing Centre,
    • expanding the Tyndall National Institute,
    • commencing the development of a National Centre of Excellence on High Performance and Nearly Zero Energy Buildings
    • commencing the development of a National Design Centre
  • With NESC, develop a strategy for Transition Teams to help the transition of vulnerable enterprises and workers 

Pillar 2: Improving SME Productivity

  • Deliver a new female entrepreneurship strategy
  • Develop a new investment funding facility to assist indigenous Irish companies in scaling their businesses
  • Encourage the growth of clusters where enterprises can grow and help each other and deepen linkages between foreign and Irish owned businesses
  • Increase the impact of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and increase SME take-up of Enterprise Ireland (EI) and LEO productivity supports
  • Drive productivity growth in the construction and retail sectors 

Pillar 3: Enhancing Skills and Developing and Attracting Talent

  • Offer career advice to workers through the Public Employment Service
  • Engrain lifelong learning and offer career enhancing opportunities to workers
  • Ensure our economic migration system is responsive to our labour market needs
  • Promote flexible training options
  • Provide training in emerging technologies 

Pillar 4: Increasing Participation in the Labour Force

  • Conduct a national consultation on extending flexible working options
  • Develop guidelines for employers on flexible working options
  • Develop a return to work service (e.g. for women returning to the workplace) as part of the Public Employment Service
  • Improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities
  • Provide incentives for people who wish to work longer 

Pillar 5: Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

  • Position Ireland as a centre in research, development and innovation, for smart grids, buildings and renewable technologies
  • Review the regional dimension of the economic and employment implications of the transition to a low carbon economy
  • Promote electric vehicles and achieve over 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of the year
  • Deliver a national deep retrofit programme for existing housing stock
  • Develop and implement green procurement policy


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