Happy New Year. How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself! It is hard to believe that this time a year ago we launched our centenary celebrations. Here we are 12 months later looking back on a year that I believe will be remembered not only for the success of the IQ Quarry Garden, or its repurposing at the National Memorial Arboretum, but for the vision and ambition of all those at IQ and across the wider industry.
The theme of our centenary conference ‘Inspiring for Generations’ encapsulates perfectly the spirit of IQ and the sentiment of our centenary year. But 2017 is also a year that will live long in the public psyche for the Brexit vote. We now find ourselves at the beginning of a very long journey for us as citizens and for the wider UK economy.
The Government is embroiled in challenging EU negotiations, epitomized by Theresa May’s early hours dash to Brussels to secure our progression to the next stage of talks. This uncertainty leaves us all wondering what the future will look like. How it impacts on industry investment, both short and long term, is yet to be understood. But we have to be optimistic and trust that by taking back control we will continue to flourish as a sector.
The vagaries of Brexit aside, as an organization we are taking control of our future with the exciting launch of the IQ Skills Pledge. The Skills Pledge is the first of our new strategic imperatives and it is an exciting and engaging way of securing the commitment of mineral extractives businesses, large and small, to invest in continuing professional development.
Whilst the Skills Pledge is an initiative that is firmly focused on the UK, it also provides food for thought for our international partners. We are a membership organisation, so recruitment is key to our success wherever we are in the world. With presidents present from Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and New Zealand and representatives from South Africa, conference allowed us to talk about global issues facing the industry, and to identify common themes and opportunities.
Safety is the number one priority for us all, regardless of location. In the UK, we continue to strive towards Target Zero. 2017 has seen a number of major incidents from which we must all learn. These are a stark reminder that there is never any room for complacency when it comes to safety.
We continue to focus on equipping our sector’s workforce with the best skills and providing access to the best training. Continuing professional development is at the very heart of what we do and, from experience, you are never too young or too old to learn. It is a lifelong investment that returns great satisfaction. In 2018 we are introducing our ‘Lunch and Learn’ webinar programme, in partnership with a number of industry experts, each mapped to a segment of the IQ Skills Wheel. We will be publishing details on our website so please visit www.quarrying.org for more information.
Finally, we aspire to be a more joined-up international organisation. We will be working to develop what this could look like, despite the very clear geopolitical differences that we each face. 2018 is the start of many great things to come, not least of which is our attendance at Hillhead. We look forward to you joining us for the ride.