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‘Technology can create more jobs than it eliminates,’ insists Varadkar as firm announces 600 new roles

‘Technology can create more jobs than it eliminates,’ insists Varadkar as firm announces 600 new roles

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted new technology will create more jobs than it eliminates but says that up to 40pc of today’s jobs will be taken by robots in the future.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in Limerick as American medical device solutions firm Edwards Lifesciences Corporation announced a €160m investment in a new technology plant creating 600 jobs.

Last October, the firm said it would invest €80m at a site at the Plassey National Technology Park, Castletroy.

However, it has now revealed it is doubling its investment in the Limerick facility, making sophisticated heart valves.

Edwards Lifesciences already employs 50 people in Shannon, Co Clare.

The Taoiseach officially turned the sod on the company’s Limerick development, which is due to be finished by 2021.

“Lifesaving, cutting-edge technologies will be produced here, resulting in the creation of 600 highly skilled jobs,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I wish the company and their new workforce the very best as they embark on this exciting new project,” he added.

Mr Varadkar explained that as “we approach full employment, with unemployment at an 11-year low” it was the Government’s aim to “encourage more jobs in the med-tech” field.

However, he added: “We can’t take this for granted.

“We estimate that somewhere between 20-40pc of jobs that exist today won’t exist in the future, because they will be automated, and replaced with artificial intelligence, robotics and other technologies.”

Speaking further about the threat of robots to future jobs, Mr Varadkar said: “But of course, that’s happened before.

“For centuries people have been predicting the ‘rise of the robots’, and the ‘machines taking over’, and that’s actually never happened.

“New technology – if you embrace it – creates more jobs than it eliminates,” the Taoiseach added.

Mr Varadkar said the Government hoped to run “a budget surplus this year – Brexit permitting”, as it did last year, which he added was the first budget surplus since 2007.

Meanwhile, investment fund managing firm FundRock announced the opening of its second Irish office, in Limerick, creating 20 jobs.

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