08 February, 2019 - Minister Mitchell O’Connor to address Future Skills Needs and Gender Equality in Higher Education at the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. Minister of State for Higher Education will attend the seventh edition of the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (10th and 11th February), to participate in the Advanced Skills Global Policy Platform.

The World Government Summit will be attended by over 3,000 leaders and policy makers from over 130 different countries and is an opportunity for a global conversation by Ministers for Higher Education, global education institutions and leading private sector CEOs to explore how citizens’ needs and expectations can be met in an ever-changing world where technological advances are transforming the workplace.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “I look forward to speaking at the World Government Summit about how the Irish higher education sector is responding to the needs of enterprise and the challenges they face with such colossal advances in technologies. With Ireland nearing full employment I will be discussing what new technology means for the jobs and the graduates of the future and how we can improve productivity and protect the hard-won gains of recent years.”

The Minister went on to say that, “The key to managing the transformation that will occur in the workplace over the next number of years will be to focus on our students. Graduates will need to be adaptable, flexible and on a lifelong journey of education. We want to place an emphasis on retraining and upskilling to ensure that we have an agile workforce. It is imperative that our education sector continues to provide a strong talent pipeline. We no longer refer to skills such as creativity, innovation and team work as soft skills, we acknowledge these now as core competencies. These attributes will equip our graduates and future-proof their skills so they can take full advantage of new opportunities presented by advanced technologies.”

During the summit, Minister Mitchell O’Connor will also meet with her counterpart, His Excellency Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, UAE where she will sign a memorandum of understanding on how both Ministries can work together on addressing the global skills challenge.

The Minister will also address the Global Gender Circle. This is an initiative by the UAE to redress the gender gap in women’s economic contribution.  

The Minister said: “I am delighted to share the work we have done in Ireland on rectifying the gender imbalance at the top level in our higher education institutes with such an international audience of leaders. I will be outlining the recommendations of the Gender Action Plan and also the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative, whereby I have created 45 female-only professorships over a three-year period to accelerate gender parity within our higher education institutes. We are ambitious for our female academics and want gender balance by 2024 and want to be a world-leading country in the area of gender equality in higher education.”