New European Digital Strategies will Boost Competitiveness

Chambers Ireland today (19 February 2020) welcomes the proposals from the European Commission on issues including Artificial Intelligence and Data. Strategic thinking from the Commission will make it easier for European businesses to compete with China and the US and ensure that businesses here in Ireland and the EU will be innovators and leaders in technology into the future.

Speaking today, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “Digital Innovation Hubs have been identified by the European Commission as decisive for enabling businesses to develop digital skills and access AI products. These hubs, often initiated and supported by member Chambers, play a critical role in innovating and testing new technologies. They are especially useful for smaller companies that do not have the means to finance their own research labs.

Chambers Ireland welcomes the commitment of the European Commission to support Digital Innovation Hubs so that they can disseminate new technologies, including AI products, among all companies – big or small, advanced or traditional.

The proposed regulatory regime, that the European Commission’s white paper outlines, is in keeping with the Chambers Ireland submission on the development of a national AI strategy so we broadly welcome it, particularly the strong emphasis on the protection personal rights and privacy – protections which will make the EU a safe haven for personal information for people around the globe. With Ireland being particularly well poised to benefit from this status we should strengthen the state bodies responsible for cybersecurity and data protection through appropriate resourcing.

The European Commission strategy on a European digital society also highlights that half a million digital specialists are needed to reduce the current skills gap on the labour market. This demand must form a central part of Future Jobs strategies in the years to come. We have made several recommendations to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on what priority actions require attention in the immediate term.

We need to identify the industries that are most likely to be impacted by automation and target interventions at these sectors. In particular we need to be sure that resources form the National Training Fund are directed towards people who are currently working in these industries so they can upskill and retrain.

Sustainability does not simply refer to environmental sustainability, it must also look toward social sustainability and ensure a ‘just transition’ for those whose life and work is negatively affected by the digital transformation.

Beyond those currently in work, we also want to see legislators invest in entrepreneurship and innovation education for secondary school students and increase investment in career guidance to ensure that young people are aware of the future risks and opportunities that are arising from the digital economy.”

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