By Fergal O'Brien, Director of Policy and Public Affairs
Ibec’s Regional Insights series took place across seven locations during November. The events provided an excellent platform to engage with businesses on the priorities for their organisations and wider regional development and investment issues. The theme of this year’s events was ‘working sustainably’ and involved a focus on two of Ibec’s flagship policy campaigns – Better Lives, Better Business and Smarter World, Smarter Work.
Ibec CEO Danny McCoy provided the macroeconomic context for business and discussed the exceptional progress which the Irish economy has achieved in recent years. However, with an increase of almost one-third in the number of people at work in the past seven years and record levels of private sector investment, he argued that capacity constraints were now the single biggest risk to Ireland’s future growth prospects. Much more ambitious investment in soft infrastructure, such as higher education and upskilling, and physical capital in areas such as transport are required. Improvements in high quality public services are also needed in order to keep pace with the rapid growth in private sector employment and activity.
The discussions on the Smarter World, Smarter Work campaign reflected on the impact of recent legislative changes on workplace issues. Panel conversations also addressed issues such as the upskilling challenges facing businesses as they seek to transform their businesses at a time when the labour market is exceptionally tight and how businesses can prepare for new requirements in relation to gender pay gap reporting.
Developments on housing, infrastructure delivery, planning reforms and Ibec’s campaign for a low carbon economy were discussed as part of the Better Lives, Better Business update. Regional policy priorities and the activities of the Regional Executive Committees were also addressed, and a range of businesses outlined their own sustainability strategies in the panel discussions.