Focussing on infrastructure investment and engineering skills to ensure the UK’s economic recovery and continued global competitiveness was a recurring theme at a series of events held at the ICE last week.
The Conservative Party ‘Listening to Business’ forum, which aimed to facilitate communication between business and government, saw business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians discuss how the UK can combat the effects of the recession in future. Panellists included Shadow Business Ministers Lord Hunt and Mark Prisk; Chairman of Channel 4, Luke Johnson; and Chairman of John Lewis, Charlie Mayfield.
ICE Director General Tom Foulkes opened the event, stressing that Government investment in infrastructure needs to form part of a strategic vision for the United Kingdom.
“Our economy needs to be more balanced; engineering and manufacturing have a major part to play in this. We have the skills and expertise – what we need from our politicians is the strategic vision to enable us to plan years and decades ahead.”
Presiding over proceedings, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Innovation Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke QC MP said it was the role of government to stabilise the economy by supporting business and investing in skills and innovation, to ensure the UK continues to attract foreign investment.
Similar messages were echoed at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure’s (APPIG) summer reception, also hosted by ICE at One Great George St. The event, sponsored by Construction Skills, attracted over 50 senior representatives, including Members of Parliament, Lords and leading industry figures.
Both Chief Executive of Construction Skills Mark Farrar and the Chair of the All Party Group Rt. Hon. Nick Raynsford MP focussed on the challenges in delivering the skills in construction and engineering the UK will need in coming years, despite the current economic climate.
“Improving productivity is the key to any business especially at a time when many of our large infrastructure projects are raising significant interest from our European neighbours and also from further afield,” Mark Farrar said. “Innovation is about integrating people, product and process to maximum effect.”
To top off a busy week for public affairs, ICE organised for members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure, Nick Raynsford, Lord Berkeley, Lord Taylor of Holbeach and Lord Gordon of Strathblane, to visit the 2012 Olympics to give them the opportunity to see first-hand the progress of one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the UK.
Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP said the 2012 Olympics will leave a lasting regeneration legacy for London. “I have been encouraged today to see the progress currently underway across the Olympic Park, particularly the huge range of construction activities currently underway to ensure the success of London 2012.”