The Transport Secretary has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to major infrastructure projects.
Chris Grayling MP spoke to guests at the joint Summer Reception for the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) on Infrastructure and Women in Transport at ICE’s headquarters earlier this week.
This reception was an opportunity for parliamentarians from both the APPGs, as well as senior leaders from across the infrastructure and transport sectors, to discuss some of the wider issues in the infrastructure and transport sectors.
It was an opportunity to highlight the importance of infrastructure to the economy and society and also provided a forum to discuss what's needed to break down the barriers that prevent more women from joining transport industries.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling gave an update on both the government’s transport infrastructure pipeline and the government’s review into identifying and breaking down the barriers that prevent more women from joining transport industries and the infrastructure sector.
Cementing infrastructure’s place in the conversation
The APPG on Infrastructure’s (APPGI) chair, Vicky Ford MP, welcomed guests to the event and spoke about the group’s work so far this year to ensure infrastructure remained a priority on the government’s agenda.
Ford highlighted some of the work the APPGI had achieved this year, including a roundtable on the Rail Review and a panel discussion to discuss what should be in the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy. She thanked ICE for its work as the Secretariat of the APPGI.
Ford said: "All of those who attended the event – from industry leaders to politicians, to young professionals – believe in the importance of infrastructure. It’s vital that existing infrastructure is well maintained, and that investment is made into new infrastructure in order to meet future needs.
“The public want a positive vision for the future, and infrastructure can enable that. We must all ensure infrastructure investment is prioritised as a key focus in the months and years ahead.”
The APPGI works to highlight the importance of infrastructure, engineering and the use of underground space to the economy and society. It aims to act as a champion on behalf of the sector and show policymakers why and how we should invest in, plan and deliver the infrastructure and underground structures that the UK requires.
Getting more women in transport
Ruth Cadbury MP, Chair of the APPG for Women in Transport, outlined the need to focus on how to bring more women into transport jobs.
She noted that there are nearly 1.5m people working in transport and logistics, yet only 20% are women. More work was needed, she said, with that 20% figure having declined in recent years, while the number of new female apprenticeship starts has remained static.
The APPG for Women in Transport provides a forum to discuss and overcome the under-representation of women in transport by promoting best practice examples of employers leading the way in gender diversifying their workforce.
Grayling also highlighted the importance of ensuring a diverse workforce in his address.
He emphasised the need to increase the representation of women in working across the transport sector to better reflect the UK population and deliver the projects in the government’s pipeline.
He said: “It’s clear that women should not be so underrepresented across the transport network; it not only robs them of opportunities, but also robs industry of their talents.
“There are too many talented women who feel like the transport sector simply doesn’t appeal to them and I want companies across the land to double down on their efforts to change that perception.”
Call to action
Jo Field, a board member of Women in Transport, provided an overview of the organisation and its role as secretariat for the APPG-WIT.
She outlined a policy paper the APPG on Women in Transport was producing later this year, and called for examples of recruitment and retention best practice examples from across the transport sector.