Time to deliver on Northern Ireland Assembly election job pledge
It's the first week back at work for our returning MLAs and a new job for the new apprentices. Hopefully, their successes in last week's election has them all buoyed up and ready to put Northern Ireland back to work.
The critical new Department for the Economy is of particular interest to our 550 members. All parties committed to more and better jobs with a focus on our manufacturing base in their manifesto, and we continue to offer a partnership to see this delivered.
Of course, any new Minister for this new Department should work to quickly get the trust and support of the business and academic communities, offer leadership to his or her colleagues in the department and be a strong advocate around the Executive table.
The Minister also needs to quickly tackle issues that remain a blockage to growing the economy including our energy cost problem, creating a skilled and productive workforce and increasingly difficult labour issues.
We would also hope the Minister would champion the inclusion of much more local content in the spending of fellow Executive Ministers, better infrastructure and support for those who create wealth and work. The coming couple of weeks will see some negotiation on a draft Programme for Government. All indications are this will focus on delivering better 'outcomes'. .
A job is a powerful agent for change and manufacturing is already delivering 85,000 in each city, town and townland. A cross-government approach to reindustrialise Northern Ireland can bring about the outcomes which the people voted for last week.
Stephen Kelly is chief executive of Manufacturing NI