LEGENDARY Hollywood film-maker Lord David Puttnam has warned that Ireland's future generations run the risk of becoming "second-class global citizens" should the Government fail to invest in educating them properly in advanced technology.
In a keynote speech to the Global Cork Economic Forum last Thursday, the renowned producer of Chariots of Fire and The Mission said the need for Ireland and countries across Europe to up their game and accelerate ICT (information and communications technology) learning capacity had now become "absolute".
Referring to the "extraordinary opportunities and challenges" that were now presenting themselves globally, Lord Puttnam, the government-appointed Digital Champion for Ireland, told those assembled at Cork City Hall that the country's upcoming generation would be left short-changed if society failed to exercise "sufficient imagination and self-sacrifice" now.
"These are extraordinary opportunities and extraordinary challenges. It also suggests our urgent need to accelerate our ICT learning capacity. We can scarcely afford to imagine the repercussions of anything other than brilliantly equipped 21st-Century lecture halls and classrooms. To settle for anything else is to risk short-changing an entire generation," he said.
In a direct criticism of the current generation and the consequence its economic behaviour would have for its successors, he added: "Having raided their pensions and undermined their confidence of ever finding a job, we cannot possibly allow them to drift into becoming second-class global citizens through our own inability to invest in their futures."
Commenting on the standard of education required today to enjoy even a modest lifestyle, he said: "In the past, workers with average skills and average jobs could have an average lifestyle. Today, average is over. Everyone needs to find their own extra, their own unique-value option; that special something that makes them stand out and define themselves. Today, average is definitely over because the best jobs already require people to have a better education and more of it."
Addressing the older generation's responsibility to provide that education, Lord Puttnam said: "Should we fail to exercise sufficient imagination and self-sacrifice to offer them the same opportunities that we enjoyed and to a horrifying extent have already squandered, that to my mind would border on criminality."