On 8 September, ICE Chairman Stephen Heaney and Regional Director Richard Kirk met with Dr Stephen Farry MLA at Stormont to talk about progressing skills and apprenticeships in Northern Ireland. Dr Farry sits on the Economy Committee, giving him a unique platform in which he can promote apprenticeships and scrutinise the Department for the Economy on matters pertaining to skills.
As the former Minister of the Department for Employment and Learning, Dr Farry played an instrumental role in the development of Work+, Northern Ireland's first civil engineering apprenticeship. Dr Farry was pleased to hear ICE's updates about the success of the apprenticeship scheme, which currently has 14 employed apprentices.
ICE also reinforced the need for a civil engineering sectoral task group, a recommendation in its 2016 Manifesto, and brought up the forthcoming UK-wide apprenticeship levy. The funding details of the levy are unclear for Northern Ireland, though Dr Farry echoed ICE's hope that the Executive will earmark funds from the Barnett consequential for skills.
"It was a privilege to speak to Dr Farry and draw on his expertise in the areas of skills and apprenticeships," Richard said. "He has collaborated with ICE extensively in the past, and has championed our efforts to address the undersupply of skills in civil engineering.
"We appreciate his ongoing support and we look forward to working with him during this Programme for Government."