Change isn’t always bad and sometimes it’s downright essential

Northern Ireland has always faced challenges and change and more is essential if it's going to grow
Northern Ireland has always faced challenges and change and more is essential if it's going to grow

Like me, many of you, I’m fairly sure, have been avoiding both the mirror and the scales for the past few days in dread at being confronted by the consequences of Christmas and some seriously uncontrolled food and drink consumption.

Some of us have, of course, and now understand and have begun the undertake the steps necessary to bring back onto an even keel and to healthy functioning.

It’s bit like Northern Ireland really, except that the soluition is going to involve an awful, awful lot more than a run round the block a few nights a week and staying out of the off-licence and the fridge.

Before Christmas we had the announcement of more job losses at Bombardier and the news that Harland & Wolff may be placed on the market as owners Fred Olsen Energy (FOE) seeks to recover its financial equilibrium.

Shorts was not flourishing when it was bought by Bombardier’s recently retired CEO Laurent Beaudoin in 1989.

But the standard of work produced by people with very few resources had convinced him that Belfast would be good for Bombardier.

It has also been very good for Belfast, too, as the business has continued to generate hundreds of millions in salaries and purchasing.

More importantly, the ongoing development of aerospace skills, in particular in composite technologies, has brought at least two new businesses to the province.

One of those Artemis Technologies is at the cutting edge of international marine transport development.

Similarly, Harland & Wolff remains a leader in marine technology and renewable energy. If FOE decides to put the yard on the market, there will be someone to whom it presents a compelling opportunity.

What we really have to worry is the idea that Brexit has already brought the Republic of Ireland 4,500 jobs according to the country’s foreign investment body the IDA.

Add to that the ongoing issue that productivity here lags well behind the rest of the UK - which was in turn already trailing the rest of Europe.

Then there are details such as the claim by the Department for the Economy that we are failing to train enough people to fill job opportunities presented by artifical intelligence.

Maybe we’d all better reach for the running shoes after all....