While we cannot entirely predict what the future of work will look like for our current primary school cohort, we know that there will be a strong reliance on digital technologies. The need to be digital and data-literate when entering the world of work will become vital for the economic and social prosperity of Northern Ireland, with digital skills at the heart of most, if not all, future jobs.
An early Matrix report recommended using public procurement to encourage SMEs to increase their levels of R&D and science and technology innovation. SBRIs (Small Business Research Initiatives) now generate new business opportunities for companies, providing SMEs with a route to market for their ideas and bridging the seed funding gap experienced by many early stage companies.
All MATRIX reports completed to date have highlighted the issue of STEM skills shortages. Futhermore, a significant gender imbalance across the STEM skills pipeline has been identified as a cross cutting element of these shortages. If we can encourage women into STEM and subsequently remain in this skills pipeline, we could go a long way to solving the skills shortages.
The more businesses within a sector work together, the more they start to explore ways to exploit new market or research opportunities. Collaboration in ‘clusters’ between businesses and associated institutions with common interests – such as universities, trade associations and public authorities – can result in a more competitive, productive and innovative environment.