In brief

In brief

  • Irish citizens are underestimating the skills transformation underway.
  • Lockdowns have highlighted how pockets of society are excluded from digital experiences for socioeconomic, educational and access reasons.
  • 25% of respondents said they had not undertaken new skills training in 2020 and they are likely to be less confident in progressing in the workplace.
  • The report shows people are now using digital and transversal skills instinctively; skills that are crucial to Ireland going forward.

Re-skilling needed for Ireland’s recovery

Following the double hit of the pandemic-induced recession and Brexit disruption, Ireland needs to revisit its talent pipeline to help prepare for economic recovery and a new wave of growth. According to our new research, they will miss out on emerging job opportunities because they lack the required skills, which will leave a hole in the workforce that could impact Ireland’s innovation potential and attractiveness as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment.

On one side, there is uncertainty and large scale unemployment and on the other, the pandemic has accelerated workplace transformation and many industries have transitioned and embraced new technology during successive lockdowns. 74% of respondents say they believe businesses have a responsibility to invest more in upskilling their employees, so it's clear industry has a powerful role to play in addressing the challenges. However evidence suggests they are falling short as 44% of respondents are of the opinion that businesses are not willing to invest in them.

“What we need to do now is ensure the two distinct groups – the people who are digitally excluded as well as those who have been newly empowered by technology – are made part of the nation’s recovery plan as we emerge from a pandemic-induced recession.”

— ALASTAIR BLAIR, Country Managing Director – Accenture in Ireland

There is a gap in skilling and training where it is needed most

While the report shows people are generally confident in their existing skills in terms of performing their current job—with 56% saying they were ‘very well’ equipped— this was less so when they were asked about their capacity to progress, to find a new role if they lost their current one, or for future roles as the workplace evolves. Individuals that had not undertaken any skills related training over the past year were less likely to be confident in all these areas. These findings put a question mark over the flexibility and capacity of Ireland’s workforce to adapt to a changing economy.

What are the barriers to learning new skills for the future?

Our report suggests that business and industry have a huge role to play in getting Ireland's workforceexpect to show that.


Said they were not offered any training.


Said there was no need to learn new skills.


Said they have no time to learn new skills.


Said they were unsure of what they should do.

"Coming out of full-time education into a brand manager role is a big leap and very tough for some candidates. There is no doubt that students who have had meaningful work experience tend to integrate quicker and are better equipped."

— SANDRA CAFFREY, HR Director – Diageo

Are we prepared for the future of work?

Ensuring that everyone has the skills to succeed in Ireland’s future economy is essential at multiple levels. At the individual level, it brings employment opportunities and benefits such as better pay, better job satisfaction and improved quality of life. At the organisational level, it matters for innovation. It's also important to understand the perceived preparedness of the Irish workforce for the future and understand the level of confidence in existing skills.

Action plan for tomorrow’s talent

The events of the past year, enormous as their human impact has been, are also a stark reminder that we cannot be complacent when it comes to protecting the Irish economy. Investment in a talent pipeline is key to our national recovery.

The following three-point action plan will address the key issues and provide a starting point for a talent-rich Ireland

Enhance skills among the existing talent pool

Upskill, reskill and boost access to skills of the future by rethinking and redesigning learning experiences inside organisations.

Create a learning ecosystem

Build models exemplified by the life sciences sector where collaboration with government, industry and universities creates a talent pool.

Activate untapped talent pools

Open pathways for under-represented groups to upskill through training and apprenticeships.

View All
Subscription Center
Stay in the know with our newsletter Stay in the know with our newsletter