Fellowship Type, Industry Sector, Sector based Fellowships, Energy, IPT, Manufacturing, Blog Type, Fellowship Blog | August 2014

Local Engineering and Manufacturing: Ian Mearns MP

My visit to Rettig ICC on the Team Valley, Gateshead, marked the end of what has been an informative and enlightening time working alongside the Industry Parliament Trust (IPT). The Fellowship with the IPT has provided me with the opportunity to visit a variety of different businesses in Gateshead, across the North East, nationally and internationally. I have really appreciated the welcome, time and hospitality from the businesses I have had the opportunity to visit, which have ranged from small and medium enterprises, to large international organisations such as Rettig, BASF and AkzoNobel, crossing a variety of business and industry.

There have been a great number of advantages to visiting industry, which have provided me with the experience and understanding on the challenges which a variety of businesses face. This is particularly important in what is now a tough economic climate, especially here in the North East of England. Our industrial markets are not only affected by the economic situation in this country; many of the sites I visited rely on international trade,whose concerns focus on varying markets overseas. One recurring theme of all of the visits I have undertaken was the welcoming nature of the reception I received. All of the businesses had a keen interest and willingness to engage with visitors, but particularly with those like myself who have the privilege to be Members of Parliament with whom they can share vast knowledge and experience within their particular industry.

A number of things really stood out for me following my various visits across the region and further afield. There was a clear desire within much of industry to promote progression through their management structure. This was highlighted by the fact that many of the management representatives that I met, had originally begun their time with their respective company on the shop floor. This was particularly evident among the larger employers within the area, who have the capacity and tools to provide sufficient training within the business to the benefit their employees. One thing is clear that all had a recognition that training staff at all levels was important, and that having invested in training the workforce it was equally important to nurture and retain that workforce in a business climate where certain skills are becoming sought after.

I also had the opportunity to speak to smaller businesses within the area, many of whom employ less than fifty people, helping me gain an understanding of what they require in order to foster growth for their business. Many of these small businesses had a clear idea of where they wanted to be in the future, but were suffering from a lack of investment and struggling to access venture capital that would support the growth of their business, or a lack of skilled work in order to continue to grow.

During my three years as part of the IPT, I have experienced first-hand the pressures that are placed on businesses of all sizes in the modern economy. I hope that in light of this, I will be able to use the experience gained to help as best I can with any issues which local businesses have within industry and that I can take forward in the political context. As an economy we still face challenging times in the face of the task of continuing the economic recovery, but also in the face of fierce international competition. I would hope that my experience can be used to work in Parliament to help UK businesses to continue to thrive and grow. I would like to thank the various businesses in which I had the opportunity to visit for their kind welcome and for providing me with the opportunity to learn about modern business at the cutting edge.

I would also really like to thank the Industry Parliament Trust who helped to facilitate most of the visits to companies but also without whom I would not have had the opportunity to visit and learn so much at such thoroughly interesting places such as the BASF plant at Ludwigshafen, Drax power station or the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield.

I would also like to thank all of the companies who allowed me to spend time with them and who, without exception, were so very hospitable towards me.

I would recommend the IPT Fellowship to any colleague as an invaluable experience for all parliamentarians.

With thanks to:

  • Sage Gateshead
  • C2MUK
  • WM Morrisons plc
  • AkzoNobel
  • Drax Power station
  • Ladbrokes
  • Chadwick Walters
  • ITT
  • GB Lubricants
  • Rettig
  • BASF
  • Sellafield LTD

Words by Ian Mearns MP

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