Gerry Kindlon, President of Derry’s Chamber of Commerce, has urged politicians to “finish the job” in bringing peace and prosperity to Northern Ireland.
Speaking at the Chamber’s annual dinner, he also urged school pupils, parents and teachers to recognise the skills challenge facing the youngest members of our population.
He said: “This year, we heard Bill Clinton challenge Northern Ireland to ‘finish the job’. Nowhere is the desire or momentum to do so stronger than in this city. This city is a role model for good leadership driven by a shared dream of a prosperous and peaceful future. It looks forward. And business is playing its part. Our city has a ‘unity of purpose’.”
For Derry to have a successful economy, said Mr Kindlon, it must have an integrated society, one which accepts and welcomes people from all communities.
“This Chamber believes that a fair and just society is good for business,” he said. “We will partner with anyone who believes the same. Inclusiveness in society and business is a must going forward.
“Local businesses will need to attract key, skilled talent from other countries to help us grow. Indigenous businesses will grow trade with others around the world. We need to understand and accept other cultures. This province’s recent record on multiculturalism is disappointing. I call on all politicians and civic leaders to do more to improve the situation.”
Mr. Kindlon said the key ingredient for future economic strength in Derry was “skills, skills, skills.”
“The top ten most in demand jobs in the United States last year did not exist,” he went on.
“Within 10 years, a machine may well be carrying out 70% of the diagnosis that your GP currently does – and with much greater accuracy. By 2049, a $1,000 dollar computer might exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species. I heard all these predictions during Culturetech this year from respected industry leaders who were encouraging us all to consider some thought provoking points about the Future of Work. Today we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.
“Culturetech is this Chamber’s baby. It is there to give this city a window into the future and to introduce the wider world to the youthful, creative and technical competencies that are present here. Sixteen thousand young people attended our educational programme this year. Culturetech is entrepreneurial, inclusive, customer focussed and has a global outlook. These are the values of the Chamber and they are helping us achieve our vision to be at the heart of a creative, innovative, competitive and confident region. Culturetech is ‘Made in Derry! It’s an example of how this Chamber is helping its members and society prepare for the future.”