Secretary general Robert Watt said public service numbers would be reduced to 275,000 with the reform of state agencies and departments on the horizon.
“We’ve reduced numbers from around 320,000 to 300,000 and we’re going to have to reduce those numbers again, probably somewhere between 275,000 and 280,000.”
His department has also received over 750 suggestions from the public about plans to review spending across a range of areas, including health and education, Mr Watt said.
Public service union IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody told attendees that public service managers also needed to wake up to the reality of reform.
Mr Watt said public service reform would include assessing performance as well as revealing online occasions when over €20,000 in public funds was spent.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said it was important that Ireland maintained innovation in companies and the workplace to help boost job numbers.
Hewlett Packard Ireland managing director Martin Murphy called for educational reforms to boost competitiveness and attract foreign investment.
“The introduction of bonus points for higher maths is welcome, but the reform agenda must continue by, for example, the introduction of science as a compulsory subject.
“We also need to build skills and competencies that enable us deal better with the wider global market by moving to ensure fluency in at least two international languages at Leaving Cert level and widening the availability of an Asian language option,” he said.