Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (712)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


712. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the increasing incidence of automation in industry; the preparations being made here for same in order to ensure it does not have a deleterious effect on employment and working conditions and on industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34733/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department and I are aware of the challenges and opportunities brought by the increasing incidence of automation in industry. A key Pillar of the Government's Future Jobs Ireland strategy is focussed on embracing innovation and technological change in order to ensure that our enterprises and our people are ready to adapt to the workplace of the future.

This Pillar is underpinned by a number of ambitions and key deliverables that will ensure that we are ready for the changes that the future will bring. Amongst these ambitions are the establishment of Top Teams to realise opportunities presented by technological changes and the move to a low carbon economy. Another ambition is focussed on the development of Transition Teams to assist the workers and sectors likely to be most challenged by our changing economy.

Future Jobs Ireland was informed by research my Department has been carried out in this area. In December 2018, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) published ‘Digital Transformation: Assessing the Impact of Digitalisation on Ireland’s Workforce’. This study assessed the impact of digitalisation on job roles and sectors across the economy in Ireland and highlighted the opportunities and challenges that this presents.

The report projects strong overall employment growth for the economy from 2018-2023. Whilst the report predicts the number of jobs lost to the adoption of digital technologies will increase steadily over the next decade, it expects that the majority of sectors will employ more people in 2023 than they did in 2018. The report notes that the result of increased digitalisation in the economy will be a slower increase in employment growth of the order of 46,000 jobs over the period.

The report further finds that one in three jobs in Ireland are at high risk of being disrupted by the adoption of digital technologies. Much of the disruption, however, will result in changes to job roles and tasks performed by individuals rather than job losses. This means that lifelong learning will become even more of an imperative and the report finds that there will be opportunities for many people to upskill within their current jobs.

The report highlighted how the Government is already acting to address the challenges and mitigate the negative impacts of automation on job numbers.

The report finds that Ireland has the opportunity to place itself at the forefront of digital technologies through ensuring adequate skills provision and capitalising on Ireland's significant ICT sector. It finds that existing Government policies and initiatives currently in place provide a solid foundation for response to the expected changes from the increased adoption of digital technologies. Table 1, as provided in the report, demonstrates the various ways in which the Government is acting to mitigate the impact of automation on job numbers.

Table 1 Current Policies and Initiatives in Place Addressing Five Key Areas of Focus 

 Key Areas

 Policies and Initiatives Addressing Areas


National Digital Strategy


R&D Technology Centres/Gateways

Innovation Partnerships

SFI Industry Fellowships


National Data Infrastructure


Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

Industry 4.0 Strategy


National Skills Strategy 2025

ICT Action Plan

National Digital Strategy for Schools

Skills for Growth Initiative

Spotlight on Skills

Skillnet Ireland