President's Council update - July 2020

"Better service and support to membership." Read about the key decisions and activities that took place this month in ICE's Council meeting.

Paul Sheffield CBE, ICE President
Paul Sheffield CBE, ICE President

The ICE Council met on 21 July with two topics at the top of its agenda: how can the Institution provide better service and support to its membership, and especially, how can we better engage with our members. The Council also spent much time looking at some of the emerging issues facing our profession and how we can help our membership to stay ahead of the many technological and societal changes we face.

Reflecting on the current Covid-19 situation, the Council met remotely. The debate was deep, inclusive and passionate. The virtual meeting worked well and allowed Council to explore issues in detail.

The Council now meets four times a year for a full day, with two sessions in the morning and one longer session in the afternoon, much of which is focused on oversight of the Institution. In the first morning session, Sean Harris, ICE Director of Membership, updated Council on the breadth and scale of the programme the Institution runs to attract people of all backgrounds into the profession.

Sean noted that in the UK, ICE has a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) membership of 24%, which grows to 42% as a global figure. The female proportion of the membership has grown from 6.1% in 2015, to 16.2% this year; the highest of any engineering profession. On the strength of this success, ICE has been shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering sponsored Engineering Talent Award.

It was also rewarding to hear that ICE is one of only two UK PEIs that is growing the number of registrants and is rated top for both preference and performance. However, he warned against any complacency: as the world and technology develops, things will change at a rapid pace and we need to constantly appraise our efforts to ensure we are keeping up.

In breakout sessions, the Council then addressed what could be done to improve various aspects of the membership journey and discussed what would increase levels of engagement with members and their employers. This information will form the basis of a work strand, that will develop over the coming months and years.

Strategy Session – Engineering Rebellion

For the second morning session, Council joined the Engineering Rebellion Strategy Session, which had more than 500 attendees. During this session, led by a panel of experts from across the sector, the future of civil engineering was discussed. The impact and implications of wider economic, political, cultural and technological developments as they relate to industry and, specifically, the civil engineering profession, were put under the microscope. The aim was to help define the Institution’s role and that of civil engineers as the world continues to develop at a phenomenal pace.

It is against this backdrop that ICE is exploring how the profession should evolve, from where the pipeline of future talent should be sourced and the ways the Institution, not only meets these challenges, but is able to thrive.

This was one of the questions set by Council during its most recent strategy meeting and ICE will be producing a report and activity to address these issues in 2021.

Digital Knowledge Delivery Programme

The Council sets the Institution’s knowledge agenda. The Director of Engineering Knowledge, Mark Hansford, outlined the steps that have been taken and what new plans are being proposed. He outlined the primary focuses built around de-carbonisation, the future of civil engineering, the UNSDGs and potential transport solutions. He also outlined the new approach to digital-first delivery for these subjects. We have already seen the successful roll out of the Strategy Sessions, of which most have received a satisfaction rating of more than 88% and regularly attract audiences well in excess of what would be capable in physical events spaces.

Council accepted this early progress, agreed the direction of travel and asked that all content is available to the membership, regardless of geography. They recommended that the programme included ‘renewal and retrofit’ to recognise the vital role that will play in net-zero 2050.

Voting rights for ICE Members

Having consulted widely on the issue of voting rights of graduates and students, with a White Paper in January, Council has been applauded for its transparency by the membership. However, the overall feedback on the issue was very limited.

One issue that did arise was that technically qualified members, such as Eng Tech, do not have the same rights as other professionally qualified members, such as CEng and IEng, which is an anomaly. Council recommended that the Trustee Board should look at this issue in detail while agreeing there should be no change to the voting rights of AMICE.

It was felt that the substantive issue of graduate voting rights should be further analysed and aired in the coming months and it recommended that a series of web debates should be set up to fully explain the pros and cons and to engage with the membership.

Overall, this session - our first completely remote one - was a success and illustrated once again the strides that ICE has made during the coronavirus crisis.

Your Council will be meeting again on 20 October 2020.

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