ACE Parliamentary Reception
ACE’s first-ever evening parliamentary reception went off well on 5 November 2008, with the highlight being a visit by the secretary of state for transport, the Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP. ACE chairman Neil Sandberg and chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin took the opportunity to chat with the cabinet member about the importance of engineering to his department and the need for government to continue its spending on infrastructure. Hoon agreed to receive an ACE delegation in the future to discuss the issues further, which was a great start to the event in Dining Room A at the House of Commons.
The event, “Tomorrow’s Engineers” was organised as part of ACE’s public affairs strategy to raise the profile of the organisation amongst politicians and other political stakeholders. ACE is working to promote the consultancy and engineering profession and the contribution it makes to the UK both in creating infrastructure at home and as an export industry abroad. Speaking at the reception, ACE chairman Neil Sandberg reminded his audience that “without the firms represented in this room the UK’s transport, water and energy infrastructure, our buildings and our responses to climate change would not function.
Referring to the current economic uncertainty, Sandberg said that it was essential that consultancy and engineering firms were successful, profitable, and able to prosper in the good times and able to survive the bad times. Highlighting the central theme of the night, the need to attract more young people into the consultancy and engineering sector, and linking it to the economic situation, ACE Nelson Ogunshakin said: “The development of both infrastructure and skills is a long-term processes. To neglect either during this downturn would amplify problems into the future. If action is not taken now to ensure more engineers come through our education system in the future, the UK economy will pay the price,” he warned.
Apart from the secretary of state of transport, attendees at the reception included a number of MPs from the three main parties including the shadow transport minister, the chair of the all-party rail group, the shadow minister for environment, food and rural affairs and members of the Treasury select committee.
Andrew Cowell, UK director of operations at ACE member firm MWH who sponsored the event, speaking to Impact afterwards said: “MWH are pleased to sponsor the ACE parliamentary reception. The “Tomorrow's Engineers” theme is an important issue for us all to address as these skills underpin successful economies and civilised society. In this time of economic uncertainty we should remind ourselves of the importance of encouraging young people into the engineering profession and also continue to invest in the basic infrastructure that will support a successful recovery of economic activity.”
Cowell continued: “MWH has recently celebrated the 200th birthday of our founder Thomas Hawksley. The challenges that Hawksley's generation faced of creating an industrial revolution are equally matched by our challenges today of meeting the environmental and population demands of the 21st century. Tomorrows Engineers are key to the future success of UK.”