On 2 July, ICE Northern Ireland Regional Director Richard Kirk joined Wendy Austin on Inside Business to discuss the impact of the Conservative-DUP deal and lack of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.
The deal, which provides an additional £1 billion to Northern Ireland, will provide funding to key infrastructure projects like the York Street Interchange. However, Richard stressed that Northern Ireland also requires an Executive in order to deliver those projects.
"The absence of an Executive in the last number of months has stalled a number of projects which should now be on site," Richard said. "Ultimately it's affecting the quality of life for everyone in Northern Ireland, because those infrastructure projects are so fundamental to our economy and society as a whole."
Richard also emphasised that investment should go beyond the York Street Interchange, citing the need for cross-border connectivity with the Republic of Ireland and infrastructure which promotes the circular economy by making the most of our waste resources.
To deliver those projects, Northern Ireland will require more civil engineers. The recently updated Skills Barometer Report shows that civil engineering is still facing one of the biggest undersupplies of skills. In light of that, Richard called for clarity around the apprenticeship levy and championed the role of apprenticeships in the economy.
"It's a fantastic way to encourage our young — and not-so-young — people to enter into a profession that's vibrant and has a future."
The programme aired on 2 July on BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle. Listen to the full episode.