“Partnering with the big technology companies to implement a digital apprenticeship scheme would be game changing for Ireland’s economic prospects. It also offers a second chance at a fulfilling career to those that feel condemned to the fringes of economic life in a fast-changing world.”

Social Democrats’ Spokesperson on Education Equality and Access, Cllr Gary Gannon, has said a large scale digital vocational training programme aimed at the unemployed and underemployed could be a powerful driver of inclusive prosperity.

Cllr Gannon said government-sponsored digital apprenticeships training programmes in partnership with big technology could be a game changer for Ireland’s economic prospects and help make up for inevitable job losses due to automation and artificial intelligence.

Cllr Gannon said:

“A recent study by McKinsey consultants estimates that 800 million people globally could be made redundant by technology over the next ten years. In Ireland, low unemployment statistics hide the very many people who, although they have full-time jobs, struggle to earn a living wage, while youth unemployment stands at 12%.

“These trends are likely to be compounded as automation, digitalisation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence continue to push many of the most common jobs out of existence. It’s a fact that those workers most at risk from what is called ‘technological disintermediation’ are unlikely to return to third-level education. This may be due to their age or the fact that they may lack the formal academic building blocks required to thrive in a third-level environment.”

Cllr Gannon added:

“We can turn this trend into a powerful driver of inclusive prosperity by embarking on a largescale digital vocational training programme aimed at the unemployed and underemployed. A robust digital apprenticeship programme would mean the government partnering with large technology companies.

“The UK has been proactive in this space, partnering with companies like Google and Facebook to offer industry-designed digital apprenticeship programmes through initiatives like the “Tech Partners” scheme.

“The UK has also introduced an “Apprenticeship Levy” of 0.5% of the wage bils for companies with a wage bill of over £3m. Companies can use this money to provide their own apprenticeship programme and if it hasn’t been used by the company within two years, it is moved to a government-directed fund.

“The government should strongly consider a similar Apprenticeship Levy here. Ireland has a real chance to build a competitive advantage in this area due to the large number of global technology companies running major operations in Ireland, many of which have their headquarters Dublin’s inner city.

“Partnering with the big technology companies to implement a digital apprenticeship scheme would be game changing for Ireland’s economic prospects. It also offers a second chance at a fulfilling career to those that feel condemned to the fringes of economic life in a fast-changing world.”

ENDS

25th July 2018

For more details, see Gary Gannon’s opinion piece in theJournal.ie