Mark Spence’s appointment to the position of Assistant Director of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) was ideally timed, coinciding with the return of the MLAs to Stormont and the certainty, if not clarity, of Brexit. With a background in both construction and project governance, Mark is looking forward to seeing an improvement in the construction industry in 2020 and beyond.
In the immediate future, however, he is facing a protracted downturn in the construction industry and a relatively stagnant private sector. Add in the new panel of ministers to deal with and it might seem a daunting task, but Mark is relishing the opportunity. He admits to having a passion for current affairs, politics and generally advocating improvement in use of public spending and will be putting all of these to good use in his new position.
“It’s early days, so it’s hard to know how the new Assembly ministers are going to impact on the construction industry, and whether, as they have promised, they will start to lead in a more collective manner than we have suffered in the past” Mark told Specify. “Brexit is also going to be an issue for all business in NI, for our members particularly so in terms of materials prices and labour movement, all of this at time when many construction companies are working on the slimmest margins.”
“In my opinion there needs to be a complete overhaul of the public estate, starting with the largest budget holders, Health and Education, with ministers making changes collectively without fear of constituency backlash and implement the rationalisation and specialisation of services that health and education need to deliver safe, effective services. Surely in 2020 we can agree that duplication of services serves no-one? We need to look at ways of getting the most for our money and look at the bigger picture, including being open to sharing or resources cross-border where lines on a map create artificial demand for duplicate built assets.”