Minister Heather Humphreys.

Fine Gael to make remote working a permanent reality

Fine Gael is committed to making remote working and learning a permanent reality for thousands of workers and students post Covid-19, according to Ministers Heather Humphreys and Simon Harris.

Minister Humphreys today said the original target of developing a network of 400 remote working hubs will now be exceeded - giving more people the opportunity to work and study within their communities.

Minister Harris said the hubs will also accommodate students who need to work remotely too.

Ministers Humphreys and Harris were speaking on the third day of the Fine Gael Árd Fheis and ahead of the Session: Post-Covid: The future of remote working and the opportunity for more balanced development. The session will also feature Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan and Deputy Alan Dillon.

Minister Humphreys said: “As we emerge from COVID-19, we now have a golden opportunity to do things differently and reinvent Ireland for the better.

“Over the past 14 months, tens of thousands of people have been remote working – probably for the first time in their lives.

“We’ve seen that the benefits of remote working are immense: – reduced commutes, more time spent with your family, increased footfall in towns, a lower carbon footprint.

“More importantly, remote working has given people a better quality of life and has allowed people in rural Ireland to live and work within their communities," she remarked.

Continuing, Minister Humphreys added: “There is no reason why we have to return to the ‘old normal’. There is no reason why we can’t adopt a new way of ‘blended working’. Fine Gael is determined to ensure we pursue the right policies in government that will make remote working a permanent reality for tens of thousands of workers and students.”

Minister Harris said: “Our students are going back to campus, but remote learning worked for many people."

Since March 2020, over 55,000 people took up a college course online with the majority of people learning about how they can improve their digital skills.

“Flexible learning is vital to ensuring nobody is left behind from this pandemic. Whether you are a mature student, or someone who has left the workforce and is returning to education, or someone who is in the workforce, we have to ensure education can adapt to your needs,” said Minister Harris.

He added: “The days of all roads leading to the big cities when accessing higher education are over. We are bringing education to you through our Technological Universities or remote learning.”