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Stress workshop shows new ICE focus on ‘soft skills’

The ICE Benevolent Fund ran a stress and resilience workshop in May as part of a new training focus for the organisation.

The fund, which offers support and financial assistance to engineers in difficult times, will roll out a series of ‘life skills’ workshops throughout 2015 after input from members suggested that such a programme would be welcome.

“One of [our] delegates commented that there is a lot of provision within ICE and the workplace on the core skills needed as an engineer but saw a gap in the provision of softer skills and life skills,” said ICE Benevolent Fund marketing executive Samantha Payne.


Flickr image courtesy of Giuseppasavo

At the workshop, delegates shared their experiences of working in stressful environments and their mechanisms for dealing with these. The course leader, Joan Kelly from external training provider Optum, went on to describe the signs and triggers of stress before outlining some of theories and academic thinking on the subject. The course was designed on the basis of delegate participation, or what Kelly termed as ‘sharing the wisdom of the group’.  

Some of the feedback from the group suggested the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions in the industry allied to the growing demands of new technology were placing them under increased pressure.

But ICE Benevolent Fund chief executive Kris Barnett suggested that troubled engineers were not taking advantage of the help that it was offering, “[The ICE Benevolent Fund] has a reputational problem. A lot of ICE members don’t know about us,” she said.

“Our shift in emphasis is to develop our services to build on the reactive help after a problem has occurred to proactive support before so that a crisis or a hardship case is prevented,” she added.  “Importantly, we are still always available for ICE members and their families in hardship and at crisis times, but we are also now supporting with more everyday challenges so that our members remain mentally and physically robust.”

Barnett explained that only 5 to 7% of ICE members use the Benevolent Fund for assistance. Aside from providing financial help to members who have fallen on hard times, the Fund also runs a 24/7 helpline for members who are enduring professional or personal problems.   

Other courses in the ICE Benevolent Fund programme include a mid-career financial planning workshop and a pre-retirement financial planning workshop. To find out more about the ICE Benevolent Fund’s soft skills training programme go to:

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