New research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), commissioned by Cisco, finds that a more inclusive digital economy that connects everyone in Ireland, equips them with digital skills, and digitises key industries and public services, has the potential to add €28 billion to the Irish economy by 2030.

“We’re one of the most connected nations, yet the opportunity that presents isn’t felt by everyone. The last few years have brought the impact of digital exclusion into focus. Whether socially, economically or in our ability to access digitally skilled talent as employers,” commented Shane Heraty, Managing Director, Cisco Ireland & Scotland. “From healthcare to education and how technology can improve the sustainability of industry or regions, we’re committed to helping ensure that everyone in Ireland has access to the benefits that the digital economy brings. That is why we are delighted to be expanding our programmes in Ireland, most notably by partnering with the Western Development Commission. This partnership will complement the important work already being done to connect rural communities to high-speed fibre broadband under the National Broadband Plan.”

 

Aligned to help accelerate Ireland’s digital ambition towards this opportunity, Cisco has today announced the expansion of its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme which will see investment in partnerships, projects and initiatives focused on creating opportunity across the country. The first initiatives, launched today include:

A newly announced partnership with the Western Development Commission: As part of the CDA programme, Cisco and the Western Development Commission (WDC) will explore opportunities for the digitisation of the West of Ireland, including strengthening rural connectivity and mobility across the region. The first phase of the partnership includes three distinct projects in healthcare, rural development and the future of work:

 

  • Helping people access healthcare, even when remote – Clare Island: A pilot research programme to transform Clare Island, County Mayo, into an exemplar of virtual healthcare in Ireland is already underway. Cisco and the WDC are working alongside the Science Foundation of Ireland, NUIG and the HSE to construct a state-of-the-art ‘living lab’ which will include a virtual health consultation room which will ensure that the inhabitants of Clare Island have the same access to healthcare as anyone else in Ireland.
  • Creating smart and connected communities – Ennis Town: Famous for being a tricky town to navigate, where motorists are challenged when it comes to finding available parking, the objective of the Ennis project is to create a ‘smart’ town with intelligence to enable better management of traffic in the town centre, to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, increase shopper footfall, and deliver improved visitor experiences.
  • The future of work and collaboration – Digital Hubs Network: The WDC will use Cisco secure networking and collaboration technology to enhance its existing Digital Hubs Network, providing a valuable solution for employers and employees seeking to adopt more flexible, hybrid work approaches.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD said: “As Minister for Rural and Community Development, I am delighted to welcome this partnership between the WDC and Cisco. Closing the digital divide is at the forefront of Our Rural Future: Rural Development Policy 2021-2025. Whether in terms of physical infrastructure to ensure connectivity, or by refining innovative and emerging technologies, balanced regional development requires digital development. This partnership promises much to be optimistic about.”

Commenting on the partnership, Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO at Western Development Commission, stated:

The WDC’s mission is to work collaboratively to mitigate and overcome challenges at a regional level to ensure vibrant, connected communities throughout the West of Ireland. Working with the experts at Cisco to close the digital divide in the region will help us do just that. I look forward to seeing the life changing impact of this collaboration on communities throughout the region.

Launching accessible digital skills programmes to target foundational and vocational needs: Cisco’s research indicates that to achieve digital inclusion in Ireland by 2030, where everyone can participate in a more digital society – including access to online services like banking or virtual GP appointments, 70,000 people a year must gain essential digital skills (EDS).

To build a more digital workforce, 131,000 need to develop a higher level of digital skills each year. With advances in skills, connectivity and digital adoption, it is estimated that Irish industry would benefit from a boost to productivity in the region of €24 billion.

Today, Cisco is announcing two initiatives to build on an existing network of over 20 Cisco Networking Academies and 30,000 people trained in digital skills by Cisco in Ireland to date:

  • Launching ‘Skills for All’ in Ireland: Providing free access to digital skills courses that support professional development or retraining, Cisco’s digital skills platform ‘Skills for all’ enables self-paced, mobile-first learning ranging from ‘Intro to Cyber Security’ to ‘The Internet of Things’.
  • Supporting teachers to deliver a more digital curriculum: To support the teaching of wider foundational digital skills to those in higher and further education in Ireland, Cisco is committing to support those teaching to Level 5 Leaving Certificates through the Cisco Networking Academy, by providing free unrestricted access to the platform, content, and coaching from programme partners. More information on how to access training will be made available in the coming months.

 

Cisco’s CDA programme first launched in Ireland in 2018 in support of the nation’s Project Ireland 2040 plan for social, economic and cultural development. Over the past four years, Cisco has helped accelerate digitisation in three key areas; infrastructure, industry, and digital skills. This week, Michael Timmeny, Senior Vice President & Chief Government Strategy Officer at Cisco, visited Ireland to meet with Government leaders to renew Cisco’s commitment to the CDA programme.

Commenting on the CDA programme in Ireland, Timmeny stated: “As Cisco’s recent research demonstrates, Ireland has a tremendous amount to gain from becoming more digitally inclusive. I know the Irish Government is committed to bridging digital divides across the country, and Cisco is honoured to help make that vision a reality. Since its launch in Ireland four years ago, our Cisco Country Digital Acceleration programme in Ireland has helped harness innovation and digitisation to propel economic growth and social inclusion. We look forward to continuing this work for years to come.”

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