Events roundup: October 2020 | IPT

October was a bumper month for IPT events, with eight being featured in total. Among the subjects discussed were especially pertinent ones like trade after Brexit, the UK’s green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and tackling adult social care in the UK.

We were fortunate to welcome some high-profile chairs and speakers such as, Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of Energy UK, Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, and Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Shadow Home Secretary.

Global Britain: Renewing UK-India Trade Post-Brexit
On Wednesday 14 October 2020, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Lord Bilimoria CBE DL. He was joined by Jim Bligh, Director of Corporate Affairs at Tata Consultancy Service
and Chair of the Confederation of Indian Industry, and Professor Ashley Braganza, Deputy Dean and Professor of Business Transformation at Brunel University. The discussion focused on the long-standing trading relationship between the United Kingdom and India and how the economic ties would be impacted by Brexit.

Main points raised:

  • India is currently the 2nd highest contributor of foreign direct investment into the UK and has the potential to provide greater support to supply chains in the UK. There are many opportunities to build on the UK/India trading relationship post-Brexit, especially in growing industries such as technology and artificial intelligence. 
  • There are still many barriers in place affecting trade between the UK and India. Easing the friction of trade could make these partnerships and processes smoother.
  • The importance of supporting small and medium enterprises and encouraging them to develop business within India.

Building Back Better: The UK’s Green Recovery
On Wednesday 14 October, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Jo Gideon MP, PPS to Alok Sharma as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and welcomed guest speaker Emma Pinchbeck, Chief Executive Officer of Energy UK. The discussion focused on the Government’s green recovery plan post-pandemic and the role of different sectors to strive towards net zero. 
Main points raised: 

  • The challenge with engaging consumers; the co-benefits of reaching net zero need to be explained clearly with incentives to inspire consumers to make changes within their lives. Increasing energy efficiency within homes and encouraging the purchase of alternative products such as electric vehicles is key to driving change   
  • COVID-19 has both helped and hindered a change in public behaviour towards climate change. It has shown how citizens can act with social responsibility but has led to fear of public transport resulting in an increase in emissions post-lockdown due to people feeling safer driving cars
  • Should taxation be used as an incentive to encourage consumers to make their homes more energy efficient? Can more be done across different sectors to communicate the benefits of reducing energy ‘leaks’ within the home?

Read more in our event blog
On the Right Track: Rail Post the Williams Review
On Monday 19 October, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Huw Merriman MP, Chair, Select Committee on Transport. We also welcomed guest speakers Mary Hewitt, Managing Director, Chiltern Railways and Johnny Schute, Chief Operating Officer, Rail Safety and Standards Board. 
The discussion focused on the impacts of Covid-19 and ensuring the rail industry provides value for money for customers and the taxpayer in the long-term.
Main points raised:

  • COVID-19 has significantly impacted how we use rail with increased working from home and altered travel times. The industry is adapting timetables and working on flexible ticketing for early next year to provide a service which caters to the shift in working patterns.
  • What the future of rail will look like and how this impacts largescale infrastructure. Many rail projects take many years to complete and the planning happening now needs to be flexible and effectively prepare for long-term behaviour changes.
  • The vital role of railways in delivering the sustainability agenda and the opportunities to reform and rebrand the rail industry with further environmentally friendly initiatives to prevent people returning to their cars.

Read more in event blog

Supporting High Value Manufacturing in the UK
On Tuesday 20 October, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Judith Cummins MP, Select Committee on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We also welcomed guest speakers Paul McKinsey, Senior Vice-President, UK, Airbus and Professor Claudio Paoloni, Head of Engineering Department, Lancaster University. The discussion focused on the impact COVID-19 has had on the manufacturing sector and supply chains and the emerging role of digital technology and new technologies. 
Main points raised: 

  • Although redundancies in the manufacturing sector were highly probable, employers should be encouraged to continue looking forward and investing in the next generation of engineers by increasing apprenticeship and training opportunities. Universities and organisations need to collaborate more closely to drive innovation in new technology areas and reskill employees
  • Safety in all industries should always be the number one priority. Fostering a culture of safety and enforcing health and safety measures in the workplace is crucial to ensuring continuous operations. Clarity and consistency should also be prioritised when communicating with the workforce. With a current variation of restrictions across different regions, procedures need to be adapted but managed consistently
  • It is ultimately in large manufacturers’ best interest to ensure their supply chains are strong and resilient so how can they support smaller businesses in the supply chain through assistance in training and business advice? 

Read more in our guest blog by Professor Claudio Paoloni
Access to Talent: The Future of Skill-Based Migration to the UK
On Tuesday 20 October 2020, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Shadow Home Secretary. The guest speakers were Woz Ahmed, Chief Strategy Officer & Chief of Staff at Imagination Technologies and Professor Tomasz Mickiewicz, Professor of Economics, Finance
and Entrepreneurship at Aston University. The discussion focused on how to ensure the UK system can be efficient and responsive to skills shortages.
Main points raised:

  • The need for greater mutual recognition and regulation of professional qualifications and skills in sectors such as construction which rely more heavily on migrant labour.
  • The need for early intervention in the education system to encourage STEM subjects and develop numeracy and literacy skills and critical thinking early on.
  • Considered the financial and social barriers which deter skilled migrants from coming to the UK and highlighted the importance of the UK being welcoming.

Read more in our guest blog by Tomasz Mickiewicz
Delivering Net Zero Across Industry
On Monday 26 October, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Shadow Minister for Green New Deal and Energy. We also welcomed guest speakers Mike Tholen, Sustainability Director, Oil And Gas UK and Professor Andy Abbott, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Leicester. The discussion focused on considering ways in which the UK will ensure it reaches the target for a reduction of 100% green gas emissions by 2050.
Main points raised: 

  • It is not just the energy sector that needs to become net zero but all energy intensive sectors. The UK is currently in an energy revolution with an abundance of resources available for change. Access to these critical resources and materials is essential in the innovation and building of new energy and renewable structures. The lifespan of materials and products require assessment to determine how frequently they need to be upgraded 
  • There are opportunities for the UK energy sector in creating a large-scale generation of jobs. In order to meet the 2050 target, a skilled workforce needs to be developed with focus on delivering high-level knowledge and skills in the area. There are aspirations to produce circular economies and supply chains alongside reviews into waste management laws and barriers to recycling 
  • As traditional energy sectors are starting to be phased out or radically changed, how can organisations that rely on traditional energy sources ensure that skills are maintained, reused and applied in new areas. Is it the responsibility of these sectors to supply a ready workforce for the next generation of green jobs? 

Read more in our guest blog by Professor Andy Abbott
Fit for the Future: Tackling Adult Social Care
On Tuesday 27 October 2020, we hosted a virtual event hosted by Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Minister for Voluntary Sector and Charities. She was joined by guest speakers Joan Elliott, Managing Director at BUPA UK Care Services, and Dr James Brown, Director of Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing at Aston University. The focus of the discussion was on long term solutions which could be effective in developing a robust, sustainably funded, regionally consistent and quality social care system.
Main points raised:

  • The need to address staff retention in social care. Additional funding is needed to tackle the issues facing the workforce including understaffing, insufficient wages and training to achieve greater parity with NHS staff.
  • The need to provide of sufficient social care now but also to be preparing for the provision of social care in the coming decades.
  • The gap between health and life span needs to be addressed earlier with greater awareness of the lifestyle choices in the 30s and 40s which can help, such as reducing stress and exercise.

Addressing Corporate Failure: The Future of the Audit Industry
On Wednesday 28 October, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Nigel Mills MP, Select Committee on Work and Pensions. We also welcomed guest speakers James Barbour, Director of Policy Leadership, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and Dr Rasha Kassem, Assistant Professor, School of Economics, Finance and Accounts, Coventry University. The discussion focused on what reforms need to be implemented in the sector to improve audit quality and market resilience.
Main points raised: 

  • What is the optimum length of audit tenure? Should there be new UK regulation introduced to reduce the amount of years an audit firm can serve an individual client? There is demand to increase competition between audit firms and ensure there is enough professional scepticism. However, more frequent rotation would lose a degree of company knowledge and cause disruption with increased costs  
  • The majority of auditors act with integrity but are often accused of not detecting minute issues within organisation’s finances. It’s important to realise auditors are not fraud investigators and should not be held solely responsible for corporate collapse. However, education in this sector should involve training in fraud detection and providing trainees with skills and resources to identify whether fraud is intentional or unintentional. 
  • How can regulation in this sector be improved so auditors are not under pressure to comply with management targets and retain independence? Should an external body regulate payments and oversee assessments? 

Read more in our guest blog by Dr Rasha Kassem