Engineers call for action on infrastructure, climate and education

Safe and sustainable homes, Project Ireland 2040, climate action, higher education and the future of work are among Engineers Ireland’s general election 2020 priorities. 

The professional membership body representing 25,000 engineers in Ireland, last week published its Engineers’ Priorities for General Election 2020 document.

The five priorities highlighted by the professional membership body are:

  • Implement Project Ireland 2040 and achieve value-for money in infrastructure
  • Take urgent action to make Ireland carbon neutral
  • Build safe and sustainable homes and communities
  • Invest in higher education and lifelong learning
  • Future-proof our economy by preparing for the future of work

Commenting on the document, Marguerite Sayers, President of Engineers Ireland said: As the voice of the engineering profession, we are highlighting five priorities for this election and the next Dáil. These priorities are based on engineering evidence, presented in reports such as our State of Ireland series, and engagements with our engineer members.

“We hope that candidates and voters will use their voices within their communities and at the polls on Saturday, 8 February. We look forward to working with those elected to address these priorities which will not only benefit society today, but also future generations.”

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Commit to funding the National Development Plan and achieve the 4% GNI spending target
  • Ensure capital investment decisions are tied to the National Planning Framework, drive decarbonisation and achieve value-for-money
  • Establish a National Infrastructure Commission to develop a long-term vision and strategy for Ireland’s infrastructure, identify priority projects and build public and cross-party support

Ireland will be home to at least one million more people in he next 20 years, requiring substantial economic and social infrastructure. Engineers Ireland will support the new Government in ensuring the progress made in Project Ireland 2040 can continue while ensuring value-for-money and a sustainable construction sector are achieved.

CLIMATE ACTION

  • Implement the Climate Action Plan and progress the critical enablers for decarbonising energy, electric vehicle adoption and domestic deep energy retrofitting
  • Re-engineer our towns and cities for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians and invest in sustainable transport solutions that meet the needs of rural and urban communities
  • Meet our obligations under EU directives to efficiently supply adequate quantities of safe drinking water and ensure wastewater is adequately treated to protect the environment
  • Build public support for the engineering projects necessary for climate action

With our existing technologies and fossil fuel dependence, Ireland will fail to achieve our 2020 emissions targets and engineers recognise their role and responsibility to assist faster progress. Climate action must be fully integrated in the planning and political systems, using long-term modelling and evidence-based solutions, and engaging communities on the benefits of each project.

HOUSING

  • Increase the supply of new homes by actively managing public land, investing in supporting infrastructure and adopting modern methods of construction
  • Implement a radical national retrofit strategy, providing clarity on financing and skills required
  • Reinforce the building regulations and standards to ensure high-quality homes and businesses
  • Establish the ‘Build-Digital’ centre to promote productivity, innovation and digitalisation

Increasing the supply of housing was noted as a top priority for Engineers Ireland members. Engineers Ireland stands ready to do its part through the introduction of new technologies, increasing capacity in the construction sector and developing building standards to serve the country into the future.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

  • Increase higher education funding per student and establish a sustainable funding model including core and programmatic funding, facilities investment and industry collaboration
  • Achieve the targets of the STEM Education Policy Statement such as a 40% increase in the number of girls taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Leaving Certificate subjects
  • Promote and invest in a culture of lifelong learning in all areas of the economy
  • Restore tax treatment for professional subscriptions to 1997 Act provisions to promote CPD and professional and educational standards

Higher levels of resourcing are required to ensure the learning experience of our students and the reputation of our graduates and institutions is not undermined. There is a particular shortage of engineering graduates across disciplines, who will be vital to implementing the plans of the next Government and achieving a knowledge-based future for Ireland.

ENTERPRISE AND INNOVATION

  • Increase national funding for research and innovation to bring us closer to our competitors and establish Ireland as an innovation leader
  • Establish a national Industry 4.0 portal to provide information targeting SMEs
  • Increase collaboration between research organisations, State agencies and industry
  • Develop education and reskilling programmes on digital transformation

New technologies and ways of working are rapidly changing our society and economy. National action is needed to ensure our manufacturing and other sectors adapt and provide high-value employment and exports.

Engineers Ireland will work with Government to ensure that engineers can lead in the innovative use of new technologies and take advantage of the digital transformation.

Download Engineers’ Priorities for General Election 2020