Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (171)

Bernard Durkan


171. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which innovation and technology continues to be a feature in the creation of new and replacement jobs in the future through innovation and technology; the degree to which she identified the full potential in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48162/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The environment in which our enterprise must grow and thrive is changing. Technological innovation is radically transforming our lives and will continue to do so. Automation, AI and other forms of technological innovation are expected to radically change many jobs, enterprises, and entire industries. The move to a low-carbon economy will also radically change important sectors of the economy and present new opportunities to those firms on the cutting edge of this transition.

Technological change is already impacting several sectors, such as manufacturing, finance, retail and transport. This presents challenges but also new possibilities - certain job roles will disappear or be redefined, and brand-new job roles will appear requiring new and different skillsets. We want Ireland to be at the frontier of technological developments by rapidly adopting new technologies to boost productivity and ensure that Ireland continues to be competitive internationally. To do this, we must enable and encourage innovation across sectors and firms. Increasing investment in research, development and innovation (RD&I) and promoting strong links between enterprise and the research community will assist in ensuring Ireland keeps its relative advantage in the tech world and increase the pace of development of the green economy.

On 10 March 2019, the Government launched Future Jobs Ireland 2019, the first in a series of annual reports as part of a multi-annual framework to ensure our enterprises and workers are resilient and prepared for future challenges and opportunities. This is a whole of Government approach and forms a key part of Ireland’s economic agenda over the medium term.

Future Jobs Ireland focuses on five key Pillars, namely:

1. Embracing Innovation and Technological Change;

2. Improving SME Productivity;

3. Enhancing Skills and Developing and Attracting Talent;

4. Increasing Participation in the Labour Force; and

5. Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy.

Each Pillar sets high level targets for 2025. For Pillar 1: Embracing Innovation and Technological Change, Future Jobs Ireland is targeting an increase in Gross Expenditure on Research & Development intensity from 1.4% to 2.5% of GNP by 2025. It is also aiming for substantial increases in the share of SMEs introducing product or process innovations and with marketing or organisational innovations.

Overall, Future Jobs Ireland 2019 includes 26 meaningful and impactful ambitions supported by 127 deliverables for completion in 2019. Future Jobs Ireland is delivering on a range of Ambitions in Pillar 1: Embracing Innovation and Technological Change. These are:

1. Position Ireland as a leading pioneer in technology adoption by investing in demonstrator sites and developing enabling frameworks and standards

2. Implement a strategic approach to maximise the benefits from digitalisation

3. Position the Public Service to be a leader in technology adoption and innovation

4. Establish Top Teams to realise opportunities presented by technological changes and the move to a low carbon economy

5. Increase the capacity of SMEs to engage in research, development & innovation

6. Incentivise SMEs to invest in new technologies

7. Develop Transition Teams to assist workers and sectors likely to be most challenged by our changing economy 

Through Future Jobs Ireland we have issued a further call under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and are developing further incentives to innovate; we are working to develop Ireland as a centre for developing and testing new technologies; we are delivering policy initiatives including an Industry 4.0 Strategy, a National Digital Strategy, and a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy; we are establishing Top Teams in Artificial Intelligence, GovTech and offshore renewables; we are further developing eHealth opportunities; and we are embracing the digital transformation of public services.

I also recognise the importance of innovation in securing a resilient enterprise base. This was reflected in Innovation 2020, Ireland’s national strategy for research and development, science and technology. My officials have now commenced work on a successor strategy to Innovation 2020 which will reflect our priorities in relation to research and innovation.  I envisage this being ready for implementation from 2021 on.

My Department and the Department of the Taoiseach are currently working with the other Government Departments and other stakeholders to develop new commitments for inclusion in Future Jobs Ireland 2020 which is expected to launch in early 2020.