This month is my last as President of the Institute before passing the baton to Viv Russell in September.
It seems incredible that we are already in the second half of the year. We have just seen the welcome return of Hillhead after a gap of four years, and I know the team enjoyed catching up with the members that attended during the three days of the show. What is also passing quickly is my term as IQ President, as next month will be my last.
There have been times over the last two and half years where I think we can all say it felt as though things may never return to normal. This month marks an important step towards normality for our sector, with the welcome return of the Hillhead show at Buxton.
Every two years, for many of us, the show is an opportunity to see some of the latest advances in equipment and machinery, alongside the chance to catch up with colleagues and friends. With the postponement of the show in 2020 we have all missed out on that opportunity, but we can now look forward to this month and the chance to reconnect.
The Institute is no different. We will be there to meet the diverse people that make this sector the rewarding industry it is to be a part of, whilst showcasing the ongoing work we do to support individuals to achieve their own professional goals.
It is particularly pleasing to have industry bodies such as QNJAC, the University of Derby Centre for Mineral Products and the Institute for Asphalt Technology sharing our stand this year, demonstrating the importance of cross industry collaboration in delivering better outcomes for our members and the sector.
Being a member of the Institute means having support throughout your career. In visiting the IQ stand, you can learn more about new developments, such as the Personal Development Wheel. This is a self-assessment tool that enables individuals to benchmark their skills and knowledge against the IQ Skills Wheel and build a development plan to support their future career goals.
As a sector and a profession, the need to maintain and be able to demonstrate our competence is both a regulatory and moral obligation. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a fundamental aspect of membership and an area where you can get advice and guidance from our team on the IQ stand. Whether it’s questions about how to manage your CPD or you need help downloading the membership app, IQ Connect, a member of the team will be on hand to assist.
The team is looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible over the three days of the show, so please make sure you drop by to find out more about how IQ is supporting the sector today and in the future.
We all hope that Hillhead does signal the start of life getting back to normal. As we look forward to the rest of the year and beyond, we will continue to see our industry recover and continue to deliver its critical products that support the rest of the UK in getting our economy back on track.
I want to start my column this month by taking a moment to remember one of my predecessors as President of the Institute. Many of you will know that Anthony Morgan sadly passed away last month.
Incredibly, we are now entering the year's second quarter. Nearly everyone I speak to agrees that 2022 seems to be passing by like a blur. This time of year brings the arrival of spring in the UK and hopefully the promise of better weather on the way.
Seeing the first signs of new life and growth around us is an excellent reminder of the positive impact we make on the natural environment in which we operate. Most of us can probably recall one of the plenty of case studies highlighting the various projects that different companies have put into place in recent years. These projects aim to provide sites of high ecological value during and at the end of operational activities, supporting wildlife and biodiversity.
Often these spaces also create vital and valued facilities for local communities that have become so important for everyone, particularly in light of the events of the last couple of years. The MPA's Quarries & Nature - A 50 Year Success Story showcases the excellent work that has been carried out and the value that our industry contributes to this area.
However, as members of the Institute, we should be ambitious in continuously seeking to improve and challenge ourselves. To understand how we as the professional body can support the industry in driving even more remarkable achievements.
We know that the operational context is changing with the regulatory changes driven by the new Environment Act and the development of the agenda around Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). Across the industry, there has been much discussion of the BNG and its ability to reflect our industry accurately. The current round of consultation ends at the beginning of this month, and we will update members with the outcomes as it becomes clear.
It is also timely for the Institute as we relocate to the National Stone Centre at Wirksworth, which is six former quarries, and surrounded by restoration projects from the industry demonstrating what can be done in delivering high-quality biodiverse landscapes.
With these sites and their resources now available to us, the Institute is actively developing new training for members and the broader industry around the restoration agenda. We play our part in supporting the drive to a more sustainable future.
Looking across social media and from previous experience, I know many feel privileged to work in such beautiful parts of the country. We share that sense of stewardship from the sites we are responsible for.
As professionals and members of the Institute, let's keep striving to protect and manage our sites, delivering the vital products the country and the economy needs whilst preserving and enhancing the landscapes we operate in and the communities we serve.
Writing this month's column coincided with National Apprenticeship Week. The annual campaign celebrates apprentices and the value of an apprenticeship as a foundation for future success.
The new year is now well and truly underway and we have quickly become immersed in delivering this year’s organisational plans and focusing on day-to-day operations. It’s often all too easy for us to neglect our own personal development needs.
As we begin the New Year, there is a sense of Groundhog Day for many of us. We are grappling with uncertainties surrounding the latest Covid variant, the disruption it is causing and how it may affect us in the coming months.
November marks several significant events both globally and for the IQ, reflecting the challenges we are facing as a society and highlighting some of the actions we are taking as an industry to drive better outcomes for the future.
Over the last few months this column has highlighted the importance of our sector supporting the wider society. There are many challenges and opportunities, driven by technology and the sustainability agenda, that we face but few outside of our industry recognise the contribution that our sector can make. Through our engagement with stakeholders across a range of sectors, there is often a preconceived idea of our industry and profession, which frequently is at odds with reality.