Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: We must answer uncertainty with blueprint to solve problems ahead

By Tina McKenzie

While we are all distracted by the political fall-out of the Brexit decision, in much the same way as you slow down to watch a car accident, at some point you have to look up and drive on leaving the carnage behind.

That is the challenge to the civil servants who have been tasked with developing plans to tackle the immediate impact of future negotiations on the economy and the future for jobs in Northern Ireland.

However, the first we will see of the outworking of those plans will be in the autumn when the Assembly returns and even then we will still be in a two-year exit negotiation with the EU.

But the fact remains that the future decisions of business will not wait for two years or longer to see what is resolved and those decisions are key to the future of job security and economic growth.

Even the Chancellor has recognised that swift action to protect future investment decisions and jobs has to be taken sooner rather than later. So we will wait with interest to see what the impact of an early corporation tax cut will be on investment.

While the policy environment is essential to promoting business confidence, experience has shown that the business community will quickly will find a way to overcome the problems and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

In the meantime it is essential we make sure that the brightest and best of our talented workforce do not feel that they need to look outside of Northern Ireland for a future.

We need to make sure that our migrant workers feel welcome and secure in the vital jobs they are currently doing and that we appreciate the value they bring.

Most importantly of all we need to continue to invest in and develop the means to ensure our young people come out of education and training, work ready for the opportunities that are there.

Our workforce is the backbone of any economic stability and growth potential and it is crucial that our government ministers and senior civil servants listen to the business community and recruitment specialists who have their fingers on the pulse of how they are thinking.

We need to have a proactive strategy of engagement that allows us to react quickly to a changing economic environment that largely will be beyond our immediate control. Recognising the reality of that and having processes in place to think creatively and collectively will give us a head start at the very least.

Simon Hamilton has rightly already met with the CBI, Institute of Directors (IoD) and NI Chamber of Commerce. I would suggest he needs to widen that net and take on board more specialist advice.

We are all ready, willing and able to put our shoulders to the wheel to deliver what is best for our economy and for our people.

Tina McKenzie has over 20 years experience in recruitment and is managing director of Staffline Ireland, the largest recruitment and employment support company in Northern Ireland. Staffline companies include Diamond Recruitment, Staffline OnSite and PeoplePlus NI

By Tina McKenzie, managing director of Staffline Ireland

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