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Inauguration of New President

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Gerry Kindlon becomes 72nd President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday 17th June, at the Chamber’s AGM.  He takes over from Philip Gilliland.

Gerry is Executive  Director  at Seagate.  He has served the Chamber for several years as a member of its board.

The message of the incoming President for his 18 month period is his encouragement of local businesses to address the workplace revolution that has already started.

Gerry Kindlon said:

“Over the next 18 months as President of the Chamber I will focus on the 'Future of Work'.  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.

“But we cannot ignore the need for students and pupils to focus much more on the STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – subjects.  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.

“The Chamber has played its part fully in the technology revolution, through CultureTech.  I fear sometimes it is overlooked that CultureTech is a subsidiary company of the Chamber – and I congratulate all those involved in CultureTech and those supporting it from the core of the Chamber for its role in helping to mark out Derry in a very public way as a centre of new technology excellence.

“Business and the workplace are changing beyond recognition.  They have to reflect many changing characteristics.  We have a globalised system, which means businesses are supplying global markets – and they have to understand these new markets.  To do so they will have to understand the cultural differences they face in those new markets.

“Some people in wider society within Northern Ireland will perhaps need to begin by understanding more about the diversity of cultures at home.  Our society needs to be welcoming to other cultures. We need the skills of people who arrive here and we need them to feel at home with us.

“Increasingly, though, the workplace will be a place for teams of workers who co-operate.  The individual will play less of a role than will the team.  Yet we are also seeing in the UK – though not yet in Northern Ireland – a rise in the number of people who are self-employed, with more people working from home.  Our society and our labour force has to accept – whether we like it or not – that there is no longer such a thing as a job for life.

“These social and labour market changes do not just affect large organisations.  They affect all businesses and all individuals who are working or who expect to work in the coming years.  Even small businesses and even the self-employed will need e-strategies.  All will need to be aware of the importance of data security.

“In this new environment, we will all need to adjust.  Decisions have to be made more quickly – and this is a message to our government ministers.  Northern Ireland is just too slow and cumbersome in taking decisions.  We all need to recognise that the world today – and even more tomorrow – is different from the one we have been used to.  It is faster and it operates through different technologies and media – the social networks, through the cloud and at an ever faster speed.

“If we are to succeed in this modern environment, we have no option but to adjust to it and to welcome it.”