Summit in Belfast to probe future of work in the robot era

Announcing the Future of Work summit on February 28 are Gavin Kennedy (left), head of business banking NI at Bank of Ireland UK, and Steve Orr director of Connect at Catalyst Inc
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A MAJOR summit will take place in Belfast in February investigating the role robots and artificial intelligence will play in Northern Ireland's workplaces in the coming decades.

The Future of Work in Northern Ireland Solutions Summit in the Belfast Waterfront will explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the advance of intelligent technologies and address the need for businesses to act now in order to secure competitive advantage in a new economy.

Promoted by Catalyst Inc and backed by Bank of Ireland UK, its keynote speakers include from Ravin Jesuthasan, from Chicago, a thought-leader on the future of work.

He has led research on the global workforce, the emerging digital economy and the transformation of work and he was lead partner for the World Economic Forum's “Shaping the future implications of digital media for society” and has spoken at conferences worldwide.

Also speaking is Northern Ireland-born Jonathan Downing, a leading researcher at the Oxford Martin School who was responsible in September for publishing a report entitled “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030” which takes an entirely new approach to forecasting employment and skill demands in the US and UK.

The summit (details at was announced as the British government said yesterday it is planning to press ahead with a series of so-called sector deals covering life sciences, construction, artificial intelligence and automotive.

Gavin Kennedy, head of business banking NI at Bank of Ireland UK said: "The world of business is changing dramatically, and it is estimated that more than 80 per cent of the jobs people will be doing in 10 years' time have not yet been created.

"In this era of globalisation, rapid technological growth and increased automation it is vital that businesses have a strategy to manage the changing economic landscape.

"Northern Ireland has a history and tradition of innovating and we want to play our part in supporting those businesses who want to seize on growth opportunities in the modern economy.

"We want to stimulate debate and discussion among local businesses as to how they develop their understanding of the future economy and how they can act now to seize on new opportunities for growth in a changed world.

"Catalyst Inc have secured world class keynote speakers and our shared ambition is for this to be a high energy and highly participatory event."

Steve Orr, director of Connect at Catalyst Inc, said: “Northern Ireland is targeted to be a leading knowledge economy by 2030 with an additional 80,000 jobs created.

“This summit will allow delegates to explore how we take advantage of the opportunities from automation and apply them to our business operations in Northern Ireland."

The event will follow the publication on January 18 of the 2017 Knowledge Economy Index, which will feature the impact of automation in Northern Ireland and will look at those international companies who are leading the world in embracing the advantages of automation.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access