Speaking at an event yesterday, which focused on the value of professional bodies in the UK, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
“We do try and engage [with professional bodies]. I do think it is important to us to liaise with organisations even if we don’t agree with them. I need to hear that in order to move forward.”
One issue that the Great Yarmouth MP might look to engage on is planning reform, as he made it clear the issue was at the top of his agenda, saying:
“Planning needs to change. I was very clear before the general election, during and after it - planning policy is working, planning process is not.
Use professional bodies’ resources to drive growth, MPs urged
“The fact that it can take nine or ten years to get a decent development off the ground is just not acceptable. I very much have my mind on that…
“I make no apologies for the fact that I am determined to speed up planning.”
Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport MP Oliver Colvile, who was also on the panel, agreed that Government should engage with professional bodies but suggested that a more coherent message would improve the dialogue.
“I think the job which professional bodies do is incredibly good, although I do get confused about the number of organisations which exist,” said Mr Colvile, and lamented the fact that there is no go-to source that explains, “what everybody is doing and what their role is.”
He went on to give his advice on how best to engage parliamentarians, recommending a three-point strategy.
“Attract attention, convey a message and impel action. That is the way you should structure any briefing which you are going to give to people. Also, make sure it is no longer than two sides of A4,” he said.
Adding her view, Nora Senior of the British Chambers of Commerce highlighted the need for professional bodies to communicate their aims effectively.
“Politicians are no different to us in terms of where they get their news and information from, so every communications project has to be multi-channel, because it will not work on one level.
“And it will only gain traction if it has multiple voices round about it. So, you need to think about different ways to get the message across,” she said.
The Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Director, Paul Nash, recognised that this was a challenge for professional bodies.
Referencing conclusions drawn in CIOB’s recent report Understanding the Value of Professionals and Professional Bodies, Mr Nash highlighted the need for organisations to work together.
“We don’t really speak with one voice as professional bodies in the industry. Although interestingly enough there is quite a lot of common ground.
“One of the challenges that we have to address, and we need to address it soon, is how we can collaborate more effectively. I hope this report might act as a catalyst for that engagement, because I think there are a number of key areas where we really can speak with one voice.”
Outlining these policy areas, he identified: addressing the UK’s productivity problem, promoting social mobility and plugging the skills gaps which are impeding growth in certain industries.
Ms Senior called on organisations to play a bigger role in offering detailed careers advice, urging them to create better relationships with schools, teachers and young people.
The education system and businesses must collaborate more closely, she said, to identify what skills are missing, the qualifications that are in needed, and to inform young people about the opportunities that are available.
Other panel members agreed and emphasised the importance of vocational qualifications.
Mr Colvile concluded: “I think there is a significant job to be done in improving the careers advice which takes place in schools.
“If people want to go to university they should do so, but please let’s get some skills into the industry again. That is incredibly important and something we need to concentrate on.”