GSNet chairman Richard Crawford spoke to NCE ahead of the event explaining the importance of graduate retention.
"We need to communicate better the benefits of being a graduate member and the amount of support that is available to graduates in gaining professional qualification rather than offer 'shiny things' to members," Crawford said. "It is going to be interesting to see what the conference comes up with."
His assessment of how best to incentivise the graduate membership was equally pragmatic: "I do not know if incentives are what we need. If you want to be a professionally qualified civil engineer, then you will work hard to achieve it, and if you don't want that, no end of incentives are going to change your mind."
ICE Council decided to defer decisions on proposed initiatives, such as giving graduates a reduced fee of 50% in their first full year of graduate membership, until they had been debated at this year's GSNet Conference.
Crawford went on to explain the event's new look. "This year's conference is slightly different, in that I have invited regional G&S committee chairs, as well as regional representatives, to give a wider field of views to the debates. We are also having less presentations and more debates, discussions and workshops this year compared with previous years."
Part of the conference programme includes professional skills training. This year Peter Hansford, ICE vice president, membership and diversity, and chairman of Thomas Telford, will be leading a workshop on strategic thinking.