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Future of Infrastructure 2022

Engineers can support growth and infrastructure development

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Damien Owens

Director General, Engineers Ireland

Effective investment in infrastructure is vital to enabling sustainability, health and wellbeing and long-term prosperity.

High-quality infrastructure is an important element of modern society and the economy. It strengthens economic growth through job creation and enhances efficiency, productivity and competitiveness.

Improving conditions 

From strategies including Project Ireland 2040 — which aims to provide for the housing and infrastructure needs of an extra 1 million people on our island — to the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) and Climate Action Plan, correctly targeted investment underpins social cohesion by providing vital facilities for our citizens such as housing, broadband, clean water, transport and energy infrastructure. 

Without engineers, we will not be able to deliver the infrastructure improvements Ireland needs.

Targeted investment 

The recent €12 billion investment in infrastructure as part of Budget 2023 shows the Government’s commitment to deliver the NDP, which will bring long-term, sustainable economic and societal benefits to Ireland.

The Government has also reaffirmed their commitment to capital investment with a total public investment of €165 billion over the 2021–2030 period as detailed in the NDP. This will bring public investment to 5% of gross national income (GNI). This capital investment will sustain over 80,000 construction jobs annually, prioritising solutions to strengthen our housing, climate ambitions, broadband, transport, healthcare, jobs in regions and economic renewal for the decade ahead. 

Role of engineers 

As noted by Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform at Engineers Ireland’s National conference in October 2022: “Without engineers, we will not be able to deliver the infrastructure improvements Ireland needs.” 

Engineers are responsible for providing the social, economic and productive infrastructure required to sustain growth and competitiveness and attract foreign direct investment. Engineers are in high demand, and we must encourage more young people to enter and remain in the engineering sector including construction and power areas which are vital to the growth of our economy. We must also innovate to increase the capacity of our sector and collaborate to promote the rewarding careers engineering has to offer.

I would encourage young people considering CAO applications and apprenticeships in 2023, to consider a career with unmatched opportunities in engineering. Students and those returning to education who accept an apprenticeship or engineering course at the third level will be part of a profession which is playing — and will continue to play — a pivotal role in our green and digital future.

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