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President's Blog

Engaging communities for future skills

Langford Lowfields restoration

One of the issues we often discuss at IQ Board of Trustees meetings is the need for society to recognize the need for our sector and our profession. 

As an industry, we have spent many years working together with our local communities to co-create value, something perhaps not always recognized at a national level. As an Institute, we are committed to highlight and educate the wider world about the importance of our sector, its products, and the many careers available.

Maybe we have been guilty of not ‘blowing our own trumpet’ and shying away from publicity. We all take pride in our industry being rooted in the community. Our sites are often situated in rural areas and have traditionally been the main employers with generations of families working, building strong bonds in those specific areas that need employment. We offer the ability to provide career pathways for our local communities at a time when school leavers are looking for career choices, especially apprenticeships.

It’s becoming increasingly critical that we do make more of the positive contribution we make. Our sector is an important voice in helping the country deal with a number of the key issues facing us today.

For example, in relation to the current debate around Biodiversity Net Gain, we have an incredibly powerful and constructive story to tell through the significant involvement our industry has made in delivering high-value, biologically diverse projects. These are restoration projects that are undertaken alongside current operational activities and when active production comes to an end. Creating habitats and areas for community use showcases the value and integrity of our industry.

Additionally, the industry also has a strong record in supporting local communities through funding a wide variety of projects that have delivered across a range of areas from arts and education to sports.

With an ever-changing world, there is a need to build even greater links with the wider public to educate them on the importance of our products, as well as the commitment to extract and utilize them most efficiently and sustainably. Our sector will be crucial in building a sustainable future, through engaging and showing what we do, which will lead to more informed decisions.

We need to increase our engagement with schools and colleges, building on the visits and presentations already being undertaken across the country. Our industry and profession offer a wonderful range of career opportunities, and this is set to grow with the ‘build back better’ agenda and the expected investment in UK infrastructure.

There is a demand to bring new people and skills into our profession. To do that effectively, engagement with the public and specific communities will be critical in building an influential network to help educate and inform others. Building a wide base of understanding will help attract the next generation of talent and enable the sector to compete for the skills it needs.

The Institute continues to work with partners and organizations within the sector and more widely to play its part in driving a greater understanding of our profession and showing the positive impact it can have. Our commitment as an Institute is the continued promotion of the role our members play in a critical sector and the values of health, safety and sustainability which are at the heart of their approach.

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