On 28 September, ICE met with Caoimhe Archibald MLA in her Stormont office to talk about Work+, Northern Ireland's first civil engineering apprenticeship, as well as broader issues surrounding the skills shortage and forthcoming apprenticeship levy.
Ms Archibald is Vice Chair of the All Party Group on STEM, and is also the FE/HE spokesperson for Sinn Féin. She was eager to hear about ICE's work in establishing Work+, and also how the industry is tackling the skills shortage identified by the Skills Barometer.
"Speaking to Caoimhe was a wonderful opportunity to share the exciting news around Work+," said ICE Regional Director Richard Kirk. "We appreciated her enthusiasm for our efforts in this area, and going forward we hope to work closely with her in her role on the STEM group and as a party spokesperson."
The impending apprenticeship levy was another topic of concern. Echoing the sentiment of many Northern Ireland employers, ICE is hopeful that the funds collected through the levy will in turn be ring-fenced for skills and apprenticeships. Ms Archibald was receptive to ICE's perspective, and voiced her support for investing in Northern Ireland's young people.
"It is critical that ICE continues to engage with officials like Caoimhe to keep the issues affecting our industry at the forefront," Richard said. "We look forward to collaborating with her, and with other politicians and officials, to ensure that our priorities are reflected at Stormont."