UK: Institute of Refrigeration president Kevin Glass has called for the EU and the UK to reach a sensible compromise and avoid a hard Brexit.
Speaking at last night’s 119th Annual IoR Dinner in London, Glass said: “We should be under no illusion about what a so-called hard Brexit may bring. The nation’s food chain, medicine and healthcare, critical industries and our ability to maintain our cities as productive places to live and work, all depend on an efficient and fully functioning “refrigeration economy”. This in turn depends on the free flow of goods and services across the continent.”
With thinly-veiled sarcasm he applauded the fact that politicians had finally decided that it might be a good idea to work together. “And I hope with a focus on the good of the country and not their own political agendas,” he added.
He also suggested that the refrigeration industry might have made a better job of it. “Given our industry’s proven track record in dealing with complex legislation, I am tempted to say that if we had been put in charge of Brexit negotiations, we would have got it sorted by last summer. However, as the clock ticks, we have grown-ups in positions of power being accused of “magical thinking” and being “in pursuit of unicorns”. It would be funny, if it weren’t for the fact that the future prosperity of our industry and this country actually depends on it.
“My fervent hope is that common-sense will prevail, and that our representatives in parliament and the EU can come to a sensible compromise that makes the best of Brexit.”
Addressing a full house of over 400 guests at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, Kevin Glass also addressed the lack of skills affecting this industry and all engineering professions.
“We have to increase our appeal because it goes without saying that our potential talent pool for new industry entrants should not be limited to the friends and relatives of those already employed within it. We need to project our story and our appeal onto society as a whole, to capture the attention and imaginations of young people looking for stimulating and rewarding careers.”
Kevin Glass then mentioned a number of new IoR initiatives to widen the industry’s appeal, including a relaunch of the Fantastic Fridges website for schools, the formation of the Young Engineers’ Network and a clear pathway for IoR members to improve their grades.
The Fantastic Fridges website aimed at introducing the cooling industry to young people from around Key Stage 2 onwards, is due to be relaunched in June. The site content is currently undergoing a revamp with content updated and a new design with a fresher feel. The site will offer a number of suggested experiments for schoolchildren with incentives for schools to video their own experiments and submit them for use on the website. A number of companies have offered a selection of attractive prizes for the best videos.
He also announced the formation of the new IoR Young Engineers’ Network which had held a meeting just before the IoR Dinner. The Network is being developed to provide a forum where new recruits and young engineers can meet and discuss absolutely anything of interest and share thoughts on any challenges they come across.
“I think it’s safe to say that the industry has far fewer people than, say, 25 years ago, and the pressures on our young engineers are different to those of the past,” said Kevin Glass. “Today, everything is now so time-critical we don’t have the luxury to be able to sit down and analyse problems as we used to. Well, the young engineers’ network is where like-minded people can ask questions or get information about anything that is interesting to them.”
The IoR membership committee is also said to be finalising an initiative called the Membership Development Pathway, which will be designed to provide a clear route for applicants to progress from their current level of membership to the next.
“Those wanting to join the pathway will work with a mentor to develop a plan to satisfy the criteria to move up to the next grade,” explained Kevin Glass. “This will of course be beneficial to both the applicant and their employer who will gain a proactive member of staff who is guided in his or her career to achieve greater skills and responsibility.”
He also mentioned two further initiatives that the Institute was supporting to raise the profile of our sector – World Refrigeration Day on June 26 andInternational Women in Engineering Day on June 23. “They both have fabulous momentum and direct relevance to our current endeavours,” he said.