A person sitting at a table with a laptop in an office-type environment. She is retraining and learning new skills.
Image: © Miljan Živković/Stock.adobe.com

Majority of Irish workers over 40 may retrain to keep up with tech changes

6 Dec 2023

Irish workers feel that AI and coding skills should be mandatory learning for young people to prepare them for the working world.

According to a survey by tech company ServiceNow, the majority of Irish workers (55pc) believe that their formal education did not adequately prepare them for the jobs they have currently. More than eight in ten (83pc) of Irish workers over the age of 40 are considering retraining as generative AI keeps evolving.

In October, ServiceNow surveyed 5,500 workers from across Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the UAE, Sweden and Switzerland about digital skills and skills divides.

With tech such as generative AI becoming increasingly prevalent in a lot of industries, the majority of Irish workers agree that AI (78pc) and coding (78pc) should be mandatory in formal education.

They believe that giving young people the digital skills they need to succeed in the future of work should take precedence. The vast majority (94pc) regard digital skills as vital, with many saying digital skills are more important to learn than languages (92pc), sport (89pc) and creative writing (88pc).

Regrets, they have a few

It seems that quite a significant proportion of the Irish workforce is filled with regret when it comes to career paths. Almost a fifth (19pc) of Irish office workers wish they had chosen a different career, and 13pc are considering retraining in a different field.

These dissatisfied workers don’t want the next generation of workers to suffer a similar fate. Almost three-quarters (73pc) feel that there should be a standardised qualification for digital skills that employers can recognise to ensure they recruit the right talent. A majority reckon that digital skills give people an advantage in business and they would feel more confident at work if they had the opportunity to upskill in this area.

“Tech innovation is moving at an incredibly fast pace and as the business need increases, many of today’s workers are struggling to keep up,” said Cathy Mauzaize, president, EMEA at ServiceNow. “We cannot ignore this pace and need to address new solutions for education to help workers embrace the new digital mindset and prepare for the future of work.”


The survey found that some workers are overwhelmed by the prospect of learning digital skills and they are not sure where to start. More than two-thirds say they don’t know where to start, and more than a third (35pc) feel intimidated by new technologies and often avoid learning how to work with them.

The ongoing evolution of generative AI may serve to deepen this skills divide, with the survey revealing that 43pc of workers still do not understand how the tech can support their role.

“Unless we act now to both upskill current workers and train young people in using AI, the digital skills divide will continue to exponentially grow,” Mauzaize commented.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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