Events roundup: January 2020 | IPT

We were pleased to be back delivering our events programme after a disrupted end to 2019. Due to issues around Brexit and the ensuing general election, we were forced to cancel all our events in November and December.

As always, we endeavor to cover a wide range of the day’s most pressing policy topics. This month we have held discussions on mental health, ethical investment and productivity to name a few. All events have been well attended by representatives from both Parliament and UK industry.

Looking ahead to February, our events will continue to cover the breadth of ongoing policy debate. We’ll be covering, to a few, apprenticeships, carbon capture and storage and the UK financial services sector post-Brexit.

You can see, and register to, future events here.

Constructing a Healthy Working Environment

On Tuesday 14 January, we hosted a breakfast meeting between parliamentarians and industry representatives titled, ‘Constructing a Healthy Working Environment.’ The discussion was chaired by Liz Twist MP, Opposition Whip and welcomed guest speakers Gregor Craig, President and Chief Executive Officer at Skanska UK and James Rudoni, Managing Director of Mates in Mind. The discussion focused on exploring the main factors related to work-related mental illness within the construction industry.

Main points raised:

  • The main factors of mental health illness within the construction industry including financial and job insecurity, physical stress, lack of HR/open communication with management and loneliness when working away from home.
  • Business models within the construction industry consist of long supply chains, and often involve many small businesses, are unable to facilitate flexible working or don’t have the capacity to provide substantial support for mental health issues.
  • There is a lack of diversity and inclusion within the industry. For example, there is an absence of women in many traditional construction roles.

The Path Toward a Plastic Free Future

On Tuesday 14 January, the we hosted the dinner discussion ‘The Path Toward a Plastic Free Future’. The event was chaired by Vicky Ford MP, Vice-Chair, Plastic Waste APPG and the speakers were Sandrine Ricard, Head of Sustainability & Responsibility, Chivas Brothers, Pernod Ricard, and Professor Kerry Kirwan, Head of Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing, WMG, Warwick University. The central theme discussed was how to develop a circular economy for plastics and the role of plastics in achieving a more sustainable and resource efficient future for all.

Main points raised:

  • A holistic approach is important when considering alternative materials to plastic, especially in the food industry where some substitutions could lead to increased food waste.
  • There is a disparity between consumers recycling experiences across regions and there is a need for an easily understood, standardised recycling processes.
  • Evaluated recycling arrangements globally and considered potential schemes’ suitability for implementation in the UK and the possibilities to educate and incentivise the general public and industry to reduce, re-use and recycle plastic.

Delivering Social Value Through Business

On Monday 20 January 2020, the we hosted a dinner discussion titled ‘Delivering Social Value Through Business’ chaired by Mark Pawsey MP. The speakers were Sean Haley, Regional Chair UK & Ireland at Sodexo and Guy Battle, Chief Executive Officer at Social Value Portal. The central theme explored at the dinner was how businesses can provide value for money and wider benefits to society.

Main points raised:

  • The continued public distrust toward business corporations due to previous high-profile scandals despite the good intentions from many businesses to provide social value.
  • The positive results generated from the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and impact of ensuring social value through commissioning and procurement processes.
  • The importance of embedding social value policies into companies’ business models and considering their activities holistically with long-term investments and commitments. The value of reporting and standardising the measurement of social value was also noted.

T-Levels and the Future of Vocational Training.

On Tuesday 21 January, we hosted a breakfast meeting between parliamentarians and industry representatives titled, ‘T-Levels and the Future of Vocational Training.’ The discussion was chaired by former Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP and welcomed guest speakers Patrick Craven, Director of Policy, Research & Compliance at City & Guilds and Professor Geoff Rodgers, Vice-Provost (Research) at Brunel University. The discussion focused on the role T-Levels can play in producing a highly skilled workforce to complement widespread and fast-moving innovation within industry.

Main points raised:

  • T-Levels have many benefits compared to other qualifications such as more contact hours than alternative studies, 9-week industrial placements and the integration of maths, English and digital skills
  • The vocational training needs required to meet the future needs of the job market to boost national productivity
  • T-Levels aren’t widely understood outside of the educational community; there is a lack of understanding from parents and teachers of the value of T-levels.

Electric Vehicles: The Road to a Greener Future

On Wednesday 22 January 2020, we hosted a breakfast meeting titled ‘Electric Vehicles: The Road to a Greener Future’. The event was chaired by Matt Western MP, Chair of the Electric Vehicles All-Party Parliamentary Group. He was joined by Jo Coleman OBE, UK Energy Transition Manager at Shell, and Ian Howells, Senior Vice-President at Honda Motor Europe. The breakfast was attended by members of the House of Commons and House of Lords as well as representatives from industry.

Main points raised:

  • There is need for large scale investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and technology readiness, to increase mass consumer use and demand.
  • How limited, unreliable and regionally inconsistent charging infrastructure is deterring an effective electric vehicle rollout and consumer concerns could be combatted by the visible increase in installations and high-quality maintenance of rapid charging points. As well as greater interoperability between EV charging networks in the UK.
  • The role of government in ensuring the UK’s infrastructure is prepared for the future increase in electric vehicles on the road and the importance of correctly balancing the cost, tax and incentives of electric vehicles to generate uptake.

Ethical Investment in the UK

On Monday 27 January, we hosted a dinner discussion between parliamentarians and industry representatives titled, ‘Ethical Investment in the UK’ The discussion was chaired by Kirsty Blackman MP, Deputy Leader, SNP Westminster Group and welcomed guest speakers Bill Hartnett, ESG Stewardship Director at Aberdeen Standard Investments and David Harris, Group Head of Sustainable Business at London Stock Exchange. The discussion focused on exploring the existing ethical investment funds and how these can be developed.

Main points raised:

  • There is some difficulty in deciding the exact definition of ethical/sustainable investment and in setting clear standards in this area.
  • It is important for business communities work together and maintain guidance from the Green Finance Taskforce.
  • Legislation in this area should be simple and minimal because robust reporting procedures would be difficult to set up.

Productivity and Skills in a Modern Economy

On Wednesday 29 January 2020, we hosted a breakfast meeting titled ‘Productivity and Skills in a Modern Economy’ in the House of Commons.

It was chaired by Rt Hon Lord Whitty and the speakers were Professor Ben Clegg, Head of Operations and Information for the Management Department of Aston University Business School, and James Selka, Chief Executive Officer, The Manufacturing Technologies Association.

The discussion focused on how productivity can be improved and help unlock other potential economic gains.

Main points raised:

  • There is a limitation to productivity due to the insufficient supply of skilled apprentices and graduates. The importance of reskilling and digital upskilling was highlighted along with the need for a coordinated nationwide approach to provide the UK workforce with opportunities to develop skills.
  • The importance of SMEs in increasing the UK’s productivity but also the barriers, including the factors preventing their engagement within productivity and leadership schemes.
  • The potential of government procurement contracts including requirements for organisations to invest in the workforce, including apprenticeships, employing ex-service personnel and reskilling opportunities.