The new president of Derry Chamber of Commerce, Gerry Kindlon, has vowed to raise the awareness of the “future of work” during his 18-month term in office.
Mr Kindlon was installed as the 72nd president of the Chamber at its annual meeting earlier this week, succeeding Philip Gilliland.
An executive director at Seagate Technologies in the city, Mr Kindlon has served the Chamber for several years as a member of its board.
Speaking after his installation, he said he would be encouraging local businesses to “address the workplace revolution that has already started.”
He said over the next 18 months he would focus on the “future of work.”
He added: “I don’t believe that there is sufficient awareness of how work is changing – and therefore far too many employers, employees, teachers, students and school pupils are not sufficiently prepared for the future of work.
“The top jobs most in demand in 2013 didn’t even exist in 2004. We have entered the era of Big Data – the amount of information available will grow tenfold between now and 2020.
“Despite the currently high unemployment rates, the number of digital economy jobs in the European Union is growing by 100,000 per annum. The Republic has 4,500 vacancies.
“We are educating students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented to solve problems that we don’t even know about yet.
“The Derry business community – and the student community – needs to understand this dynamic because the region already has an infrastructure deficit.
“We shouldn’t forget about that deficit in the next 18 months and we will continue to demand the expansion of our university and improvements to our roads and airport.”
Mr Kindlon stressed the need for students and pupils to focus much more on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, could not be ignored.
He added: “These provide the skills for the modern and future workforce. Increasingly, teaching will have to focus on enquiry based learning..
“The ability to access and analyse information are absolutely critical skill sets which we need to have embedded within our education systems and in turn our young people.. Skills will provide the basis for our competitive position as a city and as a local economy.
“It is superb that locally we have so many young people learning coding skills through Coderdojo classes and we hope these will continue to attract more pupils.”