These are without doubt unprecedented times, but it is important for the Institution to operate as close to business as usual as possible. Trustees met this week for a scheduled meeting - it was held via Skype with all board members and the ICE leadership team dialling in from home locations.
Inevitably much of the discussion was taken up with the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Trustees have been monitoring developments closely over the past month, and this meeting provided an opportunity to take stock.
Trustees reviewed the staff business continuity and contingency planning in detail and are content that the Institution is in robust and resilient condition to weather the crisis.
We recognise that during these times the potential for disruption is significant. As such Trustees understand that ICE will need to make sure it is delivering everything it can to the best possible standard. Therefore, we have taken the decision that anything that is not core business may need to be paused or delayed. Trustees believe it is very important that UK industry speak with one voice.
This avoids confusion and is particularly important for those in SMEs who often hear conflicting advice on how to manage the effects of C-19 on their businesses. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is working closely with the UK Government and we are contributing to that work as part of the Advisory Group.
The front page of the ICE website has detailed advice for members. One section covers what the ICE is doing; the second provides advice for practitioners and members.
The most recent CLC guidance on site procedures can be found in the news section of the ICE homepage. We will also be providing updates as they come through.
But Trustees also recognise that members working from home and with strict rules around travel and leisure, may have greater opportunities to undertake CPD, to learn and to review their career progression. Trustees have directed that greater effort be put into delivering digital knowledge services to our members and this programme is being rolled out now.
Members will also be able to benefit from a range of online and digital offerings which are now being prioritised across the website and Infrastructure Learning Hub. Throughout the coming weeks further programmes will be added that will mean we continue to provide world-class knowledge and CPD for our members.
We have had to delay professional reviews this spring. Trustees are not content that reviews are delayed further and have directed that we move quickly to conducting reviews remotely over the internet. We aim to be able to deliver up to 1,400 reviews by autumn. This will ensure that those businesses and companies depending on the throughput of qualified civil engineers can continue to do so.
We will consider a suite of delivery options to continue to provide qualifications for our members and the industry. We will promulgate these arrangements on the ICE website. After all - if the UK Government can move swiftly to ensure that GCSE and A level qualifications continue to be awarded, we feel we must provide at least that level of service to our members and their employers.
I would urge all of you to keep up to date as the wider situation develops through the ICE website, social media channels and the NCE.
It was with a focus on the future of the Institution that we reflected on our recent strategy away day, which we held in Birmingham in February. Trustees recognise that the Institution must have the interests of the membership and the wider public at its very heart.
In addressing these interests, Trustees believe that we should be concentrating hard on the climate emergency, decarbonisation, how we harness the power of technology, industry productivity, and ensuring that we continue to attract really able people to the profession.
The Trustee Board is now in the process of seeking the advice and views of Council before formal publication of the strategy.
Nomination Committee Report
The Trustee Board received David Porter’s initial report into the operation and practices of the Nomination Committee. This member-led work is one of the results of the Presidential Commission in 2019.
This is very much the first step in this process and Council members will be consulted to ensure that we have a process that means we get the very best leadership of our Institution.
Among the other items discussed was the continued work of the CRM project to replace our current database, MemSYS. As I am sure you are aware this is a major piece of work and we are keen that it is not disrupted during the Coronavirus emergency.
We were also able to sign off the Annual Report and Accounts as well as take updates from the DG&S regular report.
I know these are unusual times, but I hope you, like me, take confidence from the fact that your Trustees were able to gather and discharge their governance responsibilities regardless of the uncertainty we currently face.
We are probably all having to work in ways that could not have been enabled just a few years ago - and the fact that we are forced to do so just might make us realise how productive we can be. Will we ever go back to the old way of working with meetings dominating the diary and travel to and from them polluting the atmosphere? If we end up using less CO2 that will be a good outcome for the planet.