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 our industry recognize 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.
There has been a long-standing issue of recruiting new talent to our sector from all walks of life. To move the industry forwards, we need people with the right skills.
The world of work is changing. Technology and the drive for innovative solutions in all aspects of our operations affect the skills we need in the future. In addition, there is a societal shift in how new generations coming into the workplace view their personal development and career paths.
As an Institute, we have a long history of supporting those working in our sector, providing personal development opportunities and educational pathways. Our partnership with other industry bodies from the mineral products sector, in conjunction with the Centre for Mineral Products at the University of Derby, has been the bedrock of providing the underlying professional knowledge for the industry.
Through the Centre, the Institute and others have committed significant time in upgrading and revising all the course content to support the needs of learners and the sector as a whole. As someone who joined the industry as an apprentice, it is heartening to see that these qualifications continue to evolve and support our next generation of leaders.
One of the more enjoyable parts of my role as President is the opportunity to celebrate and recognize the hard work of those individuals currently studying a mineral products qualification. The IQ Student Awards are presented to those that have achieved exceptional results during the academic year and are a highlight of the annual Fellows lunch.
Like so many other events, we were unable to hold the event in 2020, but I am delighted that plans are in place for its return this year. Taking place on 29 October at Coombe Abbey, it is also great news that we are teaming up with the Institute of Asphalt Technology to jointly celebrate the students for both organizations. The chance to meet the winners face to face is always a pleasure and to have them receive their awards in front of their peers and the Institute’s Fellows is a great occasion.
Whilst there are many key issues that we need to collectively tackle, I feel confident that the award winners and their colleagues demonstrate that we are developing committed and talented professionals who are well equipped to lead us in finding answers to those challenges.
The Institute has a simple purpose to advance the science and practice of quarrying. I like to think that each generation of our membership has played a part in delivering on that objective and that the future of our industry, profession and the Institute will be in safe hands with the next generation.