Events Roundup: March 2021 | IPT

In March 2021 we held seven virtual events covering topics from decarbonisation to how working life and skills will change post-COVID. We were joined by engaging speakers and chairs for these events including Philip Barnes from Barratts Developments, Clare Sumner from BBC and Clive Betts MP, chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

The Future of Public Service Broadcasting

On Monday 01 March, we hosted a virtual event between parliamentarians and industry representatives entitled ‘The Future of Public Service Broadcasting.’ The discussion was chaired by Kevin Brennan MP, Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and welcomed guest speakers Clare Sumner, Director of Policy, BBC, Magnus Brooke, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV and Helen Jay, Head of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Channel4. The discussion focused on the value of public service broadcasters, the challenges and competition they currently face and the future role of public broadcasting.

Main points raised:

  • Digital media services have seen massive user increases during the pandemic, however the future of PSBs are still uncertain as they continue to navigate regulatory changes. Public service content needs to be made available and accessible with Ofcom recommendations still yet to be implemented
  • PSBs are part of the UK culture industry, investing in over 32,000 hours of new UK content compared to SVoDs producing a little over 200 hours. They make up a huge part in the UK’s unique mixed ecology with private and public interventions. With the current challenge of prominence, how can audiences find PSBs easily on all platforms? How will Ofcom work with the Government to enforce new regulation?
  • The need for a continual focus on serving all audiences and investing in areas outside of London and the South East to increase diversity.

Work Post-COVID: Reskilling for Recovery

On Tuesday 03 March, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Flick Drummond, PPS to DWP Ministerial Team. She was joined by Jane Cooper, Head of Stakeholder and Regulatory Affairs, Orsted and Sally Scott, Head of Talent and Capability, Skanska and Frank Desai, Commercial Head of Web, NetMatters. The discussion focused on the place-based inequality in skills and disparity in training levels and performance between regions in the UK and he focus of retraining in sectors that are likely to see a high employment rate.

Main points raised:

  • Apprenticeships have started to become more accepted, but many young adults still are not informed about them as an option
  • Support for a blended approach regarding return to workplaces post-COVID to balance need for interaction, mental health benefits and creativity/focus with flexibility and reduced carbon impact of commuting full-time
  • The role of T-Levels in boosting qualifications and interest in areas with a current or upcoming skills gap

Hitting 300,000: The Future of Planning and Housebuilding

On Tuesday 09 March, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Clive Betts MP, Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee. He was joined by Phil Barnes, Group Land and Planning Director, Barratt Developments and Brian Berry, Chief Executive, Federation of Master Builders. The discussion focused on the Governments new targets to build 300,000 homes in England each year and the aim to encourage sustainable, beautiful, safe and useful developments with ‘homes we need in places we live at prices we can afford’.

Main points raised:

  • The importance of the quality of new housing and how a blanket approach across the UK on house planning will not work. Developments need to be specific ensuring attractive design that fits with the local area
  • At present the planning policy process is too slow. A Visible need to be swifter and more efficient without compromising local input, quality building and access to land
  • Highlighted how Micro-house builders are not being prioritised even though they are an important part of the house planning system

Digital Decarbonisation: Digital Innovations for Clean Energy

On Wednesday 10 March, we hosted a virtual event between parliamentarians, industry representatives and academics, entitled ‘Digital Decarbonisation: Digital Innovations for Clean Energy.’ The discussion was chaired by Alan Brown MP, SNP Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change and welcomed guest speaker Tracey Herald, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, O2. The discussion focused on the opportunities of 5G connectivity in the challenge to decarbonise the UK.

Main points raised:

  • The rollout of 5G will revolutionise more than just the telecom industry as it will advance systems within transport, energy and digital. Peer sharing and collaboration is important to showcase the opportunities and possibilities that 5G can unlock for different industries
  • There is a lot of fear and uncertainty surrounding the rollout of 5G as consumers are concerned with the loss of human interaction, hacking threats and lack of willingness to change. Suppliers experience many barriers to implement new products such as smart meters as public inertia needs to be overcome
  • Digital technology has a huge role to play in helping the UK achieve net zero targets. How can Government and industry work together to ensure digital technology is utilised in the challenge to combat climate change?

Work Post-COVID: The Future of Work

On Tuesday 16 March, we hosted a virtual event between parliamentarians, industry representatives and academics, entitled ‘Work Post-COVID: The Future of Work.’ The discussion was chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP, Select Committee on Work and Pensions and welcomed guest speakers Leslie Benson, Senior Managing Director, Strategic Communications, FTI Consulting, Ben Harrison, Director, the Work Foundation, Lancaster University and Vicky Wallis, Chief People Officer, Direct Line Group. The discussion focused on the impacts Covid-19 has had on the world of work and whether some changes, implemented due to restrictions during the pandemic, will affect future working business models.

Main points raised:

  • Employees have had individualistic experiences over the last year with a shift to remote working. Many have benefitted from the lack of commute to easing caring duties whilst others have struggled without the divide between work and home life. Inequalities have been highlighted and connectivity issues challenged. The importance of embracing hybrid structures and strong leadership is clear for the future of work
  • Lifelong learning and building a continuous learning culture across society can enhance skill sets and provide more opportunities to the UK workforce. It was suggested that a move from ‘paternalistic’ employer’s views on training to empowering and encouraging individuals to embrace personal development would be more beneficial
  • The impact of moving to a hybrid working environment on further education and the full employment process. Apprenticeships, trainees and graduates, and L&D need to be supported by businesses and government in this potential transition

Digital Identities: Building Trust in Digital Services

On Wednesday 17 March, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Rt Hon Lord Vaizey, House of Lords Select Committee on Communications and Digital. He was joined by Aiyapan Sivadasan, Head of eBanking and eCommerce, EMEA, Thales and Paul Wood, Industry Advisor, Tata Consultancy Service. The discussion focused on the increased use of digital identities and what would constitute a robust, secure digital ID system that enables efficient access to a range of services.

Main points raised:

  • The focus on data minimisation as a key principle within Digital identification. Simplifying information to create cohesive and easy to use systems that are secure and trustworthy
  • Scandinavia and Estonia repeatedly cited as the global benchmark with high levels of trust in Government and their wide-ranging engagement in digital ID services
  • Highlighted the importance of financial inclusion. It is important government and industry continue to work together to avoid a two-tier society within digital initiatives

Making the UK a Battery Power

On Tuesday 23 March, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Lilian Greenwood MP, Select Committee on Transport. He was joined by Adrien Lebrun, Engineering Director, Pivot Power and Professor David Greenwood, CEO, WMG High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Warwick University. The discussion focused the development of whole-life strategies including recycling and reuse and how the UK can better commercialise research innovations and scale them quickly.

Main points raised:

  • The current industry landscape with the UK only holding around 1% of the battery manufacturing industry. The larger manufacturers are in Asia and more specifically in China, however predictions of growth within Europe in the coming years
  • The complexity of the technology highlighted and the unlikelihood that the UK will have all the components to develop battery power
  • Collaboration will be essential to provide the UK with the Gigafactories and infrastructure needed to provide this battery power
  • The cost of battery power has decreased dramatically in the last ten years making it more cost effective and accessible. This highlights the opportunity Battery power/storage provides as a viable option for low carbon consumption. Regardless of the price it should continue to be explored