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Council update - April

14 May 2019

The second meeting of the 2019 Council session.

Council update - April

The full Council met formally on 16 April 2019, and since December 2018 has also convened a number of smaller groups who have met to debate a wide range of topics in more detail than time allows at the formal Council meetings.

Those groups have considered the skills we need in a rapidly changing infrastructure market, the legacy of last year’s Global Engineering Congress (GEC), and how we embrace technology-enabled infrastructure as a new and exciting form of civil engineering.

Council has also listened to briefings from the next generation of our membership, with the President’s Future Leaders in the vanguard of debate.

Council also contributed to a discussion on governance and was updated on ICE Past President David Orr’s Governance Review.

ICE strategy

Our bicentennial (ICE 200) was hugely successful in reaching out to explain civil engineering to the general public; and we learnt some important lessons.

Firstly, the public is really interested in both civil engineering and infrastructure. They want to know more about both how infrastructure works, and how it is designed and delivered.

But they are always much more interested in infrastructure working and what the benefits are for them.

Too often we frame our debate in technical language which is about how we plan and build things.

The public recognises this, but they just want to know if their train will get them home in time to take children to football.

Secondly, ICE 200 taught us that the public will listen, and be interested, if we frame the debate in terms of things about which they care.

So, while they know roads are important, they are really more interested in health, education, schooling and job prospects (for them and their families).

We must frame our debate to explain how infrastructure and civil engineering improves their lives, with specific reference to the topics about which they care.

Thirdly, our members are brilliant at explaining how, why and what they do. And we should encourage and exhort them to do so.

We should not shy away from public debate, from setting up discussions with the public, from engaging with local politicians and officials, and be seen to be at the heart of a national and local debate.

The global challenge

The ICE’s Royal Charter does not talk about growing membership or public voice. Paraphrased, it talks about our duty to make the world a better place.

The world faces some huge challenges and engineers have a disproportionate ability to address those challenges. What we provide now will still be in common use in 2050.

Between now and 2050, the world’s population is forecast to grow from just over 7 billion to around 10 billion. That population is likely to be centered in cities and what we term the emerging economies. On our current performance we are therefore potentially condemning around 2 billion people to living in slums, shanty towns and a life in poverty.

When we superimpose the effects of the demographic change of the raft of challenges already, such as climate change, mass migration, resource poverty, and changing water levels, it just underlines the need for leadership and action now.

It is for this reason that the ICE held its Global Engineering Congress (GEC) last year, which was very specifically designed to bring the global engineering profession together to look at how we, as engineers, can work together to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We won't be able to do this on our own.

So, we will have to build a set of global alliances to allow people to work together in a collaborative and supportive way.

The ICE has already set up a policy group to support this work. Chaired by Sir Michael Bear, with our members and representatives from the UN, OECD, and development banks, it has a global membership working to support this initiative.

The Institution will be supporting the creation of global alliances to help our global profession work together to deliver the SDGs.

As part of this, we are hoping to institute a global, annual conference that will allow people from across the infrastructure spectrum to drive this initiative forward.

Changing face of the industry

Just as Council has been looking at how the world might be in 2050, it has been thinking long and hard about the rapidly changing nature of our industry. Engineering is a truly global activity, and we see the effects of consolidation, technology, emerging economies and changing demand across the globe.

Our industry is transforming but not yet at the same rate as some others: aviation; automotive; retail; and manufacturing.

The ICE has supported initiatives to support transformation. Project 13 is specifically designed to address productivity. The UK Construction Leadership Council has set out a policy with a presumption of offsite manufacturing, digitally enabled infrastructure and whole life performance.

But these opportunities provided by the fourth industrial are not just limited to the UK problem, they are available in every society across the world.

As with every market, the skills we need now are very different to those we needed just a few years ago.

The boundaries between what we used to call technology and engineering are now so blurred as to be almost invisible. The skills now required in our multi-disciplinary teams are much broader: data analysts, sustainability experts, coders, gamers, algorithm writers… are all now being employed in leading engineering companies around the world.

Providing infrastructure now requires a much broader range of skills than we have defined as “civil engineering” in the past. Indeed, much of the value and delivery risk now sits squarely in the technology and systems integration element of infrastructure schemes.

The ICE’s Charter talks of being able to harness the powers of nature.

The rapidly developing range of new technologies – robotics, quantum computing, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence – provide us as engineers with new range of the “powers of nature”. As we did with steel and then concrete, we need to understand how these new powers of nature can best be put to good use to improve people’s lives in our global society.

We also need to have a debate about what it means in this new environment to be a member of the ICE and how we reach out to include those who can help us keep at the cutting edge of technology and engineering. We need to look at whether, and how, we might broaden our offer to those engaged in this new era of infrastructure and engineering.

Skills and assurance

A Council member-led steering group has been established to address how the ICE can best implement the recommendations of In Plain Sight; The Professional Skills Review; and Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review ‘Building a safer future’ Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (2018).

ICE’s Director of Engineering Knowledge, Nathan Baker, updated Council on the work being undertaken based on these reviews.

Three areas of focus have emerged, he said, namely governance, capability and lessons learnt.
Under governance, the aim is to develop and present a list of prospective infrastructure assets for statutory certification and secure approval from the government via its Construction Board. This will be discussed by the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) in June 2019 and by PEI CEOs this month.

The output from the capability workstream will be on the mechanisms that ICE needs to put in place to define the fields of civil engineering that it wishes to regulate, including any health and safety-specific specialisms in support of the Hackitt Review, and the mechanisms it will use to define CPD requirements in those fields.

Meanwhile, it’s proposed that the lessons learnt workstream focuses on a range of activities that includes developing an annual event with HSE and other partners on infrastructure near-misses, incidents or forensic reports; developing and presenting mandatory CPD learning and development opportunities; and developing communities of practice for risk management, engineering forensics and education and skills.


The Membership division has been reviewing processes leading to professional qualification after the Annual Membership Survey 2017 found dissatisfaction among graduate members with regards to ICE processes for aspiring engineers, which they said hindered their applications.

The Streamlining 2.0 Steering Group (S2SG) was established in November 2018 to address the issues and make the process of achieving professional qualification as straightforward as possible.
It won't seek to change the standards required for professional registration, as they’re linked to UK SPEC and Engineering Council regulations.

However, it will, through a series of workstreams, trial proposed changes to the membership application and admission processes with user groups across all ICE grades.

It will report back to Council on the trials in Q4 2019.

International strategy

CK Mak, ICE VP International, updated Council on the Institution’s international strategy, which is to take a more focused approach to delivering international insight and assurance.

The ICE’s future international policy will be based on international market analysis and development of an approach to international engagement which establishes clear priorities and allows for regional specifics.

President’s Future Leaders updates

Two of this year’s President’s Future Leaders provided updates to Council on their projects – The role of the civil engineer in helping to address Loneliness in our society, and improving our performance in terms of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Bryn Noble seeks to develop an official ICE position on ‘loneliness’ and to consider how this social challenge can be mitigated through urban design and engagement with government policymakers.
He suggested a three-pronged approach to addressing loneliness.

The first was to design out loneliness through reviewing and discussing best practice.

The second was looking at social wellbeing within ICE and its membership.

Thirdly, he proposed that ICE engages directly with government and acts as the lead interface with industry on the subject.

He asked Council members to support the programme, which aims to achieve the following outcomes: developing a policy on loneliness; an ICE-led conference on loneliness in 2020; and establishing an ICE Loneliness Champion.

Meanwhile, Emma Watkins is looking to introduce an ICE award for companies that demonstrate best practice in sharing and/or collaborating with equality, diversity and inclusion programmes.
She said that raising the profile of companies developing and sharing good ideas in this space will help to address issues of skills shortage, diversity and inclusion.

Trustee elections

Finally, Council elected the Trustee Board members for 2019/20, and directly appointed three Council Appointee Members.

It also approved appointments and reappointments following recommendations from the Nomination Committee.

The next council meeting will take place in July 2019.

  • Anh Nguyen, digital content lead at ICE