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Career Transformation Q1 2023

Are we future-ready to adapt to the changing social and economic needs?

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Claire McGee

Head of Education and Innovation Policy, Ibec

Globalisation, rapid digitalisation and new consumer preferences are transforming careers and jobs with the pace of change accelerating. This brings great opportunities — but also risks.

Major innovations have been introduced over the last 15 years: artificial intelligence, cloud computing, smart communication technology, etc.

All have had a social impact on how we live, how we work and how we interact with each other. It is becoming harder to predict with a high degree of certainty what the jobs and the workplace of the future will be. 

New career demands

With careers now lasting close to 50 years, most people will probably make multiple career changes and transitions, requiring new skills and expertise and developing new social networks at every turn. We will constantly be on a learning journey, regardless of our qualifications.

The demand for skills is outpacing supply, and finding the best talent is going to be increasingly difficult as the world navigates a period of heightened economic uncertainty.

We will constantly be on a learning journey,
regardless of our qualifications.

Educational systems should adapt

There must be a shift in conventional thinking and approaches when supporting young people to feel empowered and in control of their choices as they transition from secondary school to their next phase of education and professional development.

The education system is being called upon to review and innovate in several fundamental ways, to meet the new demands of economic and social change.

The advent of Technological Universities, the rollout of a dynamic new apprenticeship programme in high-tech sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical and finance, and further education programmes with direct employment outcomes are providing greater choices for businesses to grow their talent pools. 

Collaboration is critical to success

While Ireland has an enviable reputation for its education system, we are below par when it comes to lifelong learning and skills initiatives. Ireland’s lifelong learning participation rate remains below the EU target and significantly below what is required for a knowledge-based economy.

It’s time to invest in enhancing the skills and competencies of all segments of the workforce. The short and decreasing shelf-life of skills — coupled with limited opportunity for lifelong learning and the accelerating pace of technology — pose particular challenges for individuals and businesses seeking to maximise the opportunities presented by this new future of work.

We must harness the collaborative approach of educators, enterprises and the Government to develop a new approach and mindset towards lifelong learning if we are to meet the future needs of society and the economy. An investment in learning is an investment in our collective future.

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