ICE at the party conferences - Labour

It’s party conference season and ICE is keen to ensure that its views on infrastructure policy are heard at the debates that take place.

ICE’s Andrew Wescott speaks at a panel event about apprentices
ICE’s Andrew Wescott speaks at a panel event about apprentices
  • Updated: 02 October, 2015
  • Author: Andrew Wescott, ICE Head of Policy

While quite internal in nature, conferences are an opportunity for outside organisations, such as ICE, to get an insight into what’s on each party’s policy agenda.

Labour’s conference provided something of a blank canvas for ICE. Having recently gone through a leadership contest, which focused on internal tensions, the conference provided delegates with a chance to listen to the views of others. As expected there were many events on topics close to ICE’s heart. Apprentices, devolution and transport featured as the headline discussions.

ICE’s team attended 18 events across the two days ensuring that we got our messages across to as many stakeholders as possible.

I was pleased to speak at a National Institute of Adult Continuing Education event panel on the topic of apprentices. The Government aspiration to create three million apprentices by 2020 has been cautiously welcomed. The topic of this discussion, ‘Quantity over quality?’ illustrated the concerns that many people have. The fact that we had a room full of people for an event at 08.15 in the morning shows how passionate people are about this issue.

In my five-minute introduction I emphasised the need for skills initiatives to:

  • Deliver a career pathway to apprentices, which includes transferrable skills
  • Put a focus on lifelong learning and the importance of upskilling our existing workforce
  • Link into a package of measures, which starts with improving the take up of STEM subjects at school and better careers guidance so that young people can see a pathway into engineering

I cannot do the quality of the debate justice in this short blog piece, but it was a fascinating discussion and left me with lots to think about.

The next step is to ensure that the Policy and Public Affairs team follow up on the interesting people we met and the issues we learned about. The conferences provide us with a great platform from which to build.

Next stop Manchester for the Conservative Party Conference.

If you want to know more about or work with all political parties across the UK, contact Alex Green Wilkes, Public Affairs Manager at or visit our public affairs section to find out more.