As is tradition at this time of year, December is the chance to reflect on the past year and to look towards what the coming year may bring. Whilst my predecessors would have talked of uncertainty, challenges and opportunities, I don’t think any of us would have predicted the 2020 we have all experienced.
We are living through a once-in-a-generation event. 2020 will be forever remembered in history as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is felt across all continents, affecting millions of people.
In the UK, Europe and many other parts of the world, we are now seeing a second wave of increasing infections leading to new restrictions being placed on society as we head into the winter period. We face 2021 with uncertainty but also with the hope that we will find the long-term solutions for dealing with COVID-19.
Outside of the pandemic there are also political and economic uncertainties that we will need to take heed of. The UK and Europe continue their negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal, whilst the US prepares for its new presidential term.
The primary concern for the Institute has been to support its members through this challenging period, both as professionals and as people. Working with our branches, we have moved all activities online to maintain members’ ability to learn from and share best practice with each other.
We have also seen the launch of IQ Connect, enabling members to easily access information not only from the Institute, but also other key industry sources such as the HSE and QNJAC.
The Institute’s Benevolent Fund has also increased its activity this year in assisting members past and present, along with their families.
IQ is more than just a professional body; we are a community that from the time we were formed has sought to ensure that ourselves and our colleagues return home from work safely each day.
This year we have seen this evolve from physical measures and processes to an increased focus on mental health and well-being. People have really helped each other to get through the pandemic and the examples of colleagues going above and beyond to support their local communities in a time of need has been inspiring.
While there are undoubtedly challenges for us all, there are very real reasons for us as an industry to look to the future with some optimism. We will be vital in helping the long-term economic recovery in many parts of the world. That recovery will be guided by the need to deliver a sustainable future for society and as a sector. We are working hard to support the global targets on carbon reduction and the efficient use of materials.
Now more than ever, our industry and our profession needs to invest in delivering skilled, knowledgeable, and competent people to meet those challenges. The IQ is playing its part with industry partners to do that, ensuring we have a workforce ready for the future and that we move into next year focusing on the positive opportunities that await.
The New Year will bring some personal opportunities and changes for me as I leave Tarmac in January, after more than 30 years with the business, for a new global role as vice-president - performance with parent company CRH. However, my commitment to the UK quarrying industry and IQ’s mission remains, and I look forward to continuing in my role as President as we embrace the challenges of 2021 together.
I wish you all a safe and healthy festive period and the very best for the year ahead.