12 July 2023 | Innovation | Our Work

View from the top: Ambassadors for our industry

It’s been a week since the Innovation Festival, and it was certainly a hectic few days, including set up and take down. We’ve had lots of positive feedback and some great ideas to improve things further for next year.

As a Community Interest Company, and a very small team, we thrive on working with all our sector partners, whether they are from the public or private sector. Of course, it’s always much easier when we are dealing with friendly, supportive people and overwhelmingly this is the case.

From the moment registration began on the first day, through to the last moments of the Festival, I had so many conversations with people from a wide range of roles including: CEOs, Managing Directors, Heads of Service, Assistant Directors, Engineers, Business Development, and many others.

I found everyone in the public sector to be positive about engaging with suppliers and many relished listening to the panel sessions. The session, expertly chaired by our own Kerry Winstanley, was one where we brought together apprentices from various organisations and a representative from Salford College. I think what struck me most was how surprised each of the apprentices were at how they had come to love the sector they are now in. I must confess, I would never have dreamt about being in this sector and yet it’s the one I’ve become most passionate about. The apprentice speakers talked about their perceptions including: “I thought High Viz jobs were basic” and “I didn’t think it was for me, I wished parents would talk about this more”, and it did get me thinking about how many parents we have that are ambassadors for our industry that we don’t celebrate perhaps as much as we should.

I can think of a colleague at Bristol Council whose father, himself, and now his daughter are in the industry. An Innovate UK colleague who seems to have been inspired by his grandfather who worked at DfT and many more examples. I mentioned to the MD from Eurovia, who won the collaboration award at the Innovation Festival, about young people and they like many organisations have a family day. To add to this, yesterday I read a” Thank you” email from a Local Authority Manager who brought his son to the Innovation Festival.

So, perhaps this is where our future untapped workforce comes from, the parents, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers in the industry. It got me to thinking, I wonder if there is a way to tap into this in more coordinated way? Thoughts on a postcard to me please!