Blue Sky Conversation was delighted to host a Conservative Policy Forum question time on the Isle of Wight with a great guest panel. The topic of debate was skills and training in 21st century and each of the panellists brought their own unique perspective.
Dr Lisa Mardikian, International Law lecturer at Portsmouth University said it was crucial the UK has a plan for upskilling its workforce post Brexit. If skilled labour coming from the EU and elsewhere was to be restricted it was crucial the UK economy did not suffer. Barbara Stephens, CEO of Dementia Pathfinders talked about re-training and recognising skills of older people in the workforce. She said too much focus only on skills of the young risked the skills of older people not being fully realised.
Cllr Steve Hastings asked whether the Isle of Wight could attract a satellite university campus on the Isle of Wight. Cllr Wayne Whittle, IW Council Lead for Business Development and Regeneration, said he thought it was entirely possible. The Isle of Wight offers unique opportunities in environmental science, energy, dinosaur fossils as well as tech industries that would make it an excellent place to locate an academic department. Ronnie Taffurelli-Hutchings, a politics student from Portsmouth University and Founder of the University’s Conservative Association, agreed and said student demand would improve the local economy and social life for all young people on the Island.
Cllr Brain Tyndall asked whether UK apprenticeships were being watered down and suggested there should be a minimum standard of 3-4 years for work-based training to be described as an apprenticeship. International student and Head Boy of Ryde School, Brain Fu, agreed standards must be maintained however he said that there is also needed to flexibility. Dr Mardikian added that what might be appropriate in one sector might not be relevant to another.
The event was moderated by Joe Robertson who kept the conversation flowing and encouraged many contributions from the floor. After the panel event drinks and canapés were served and everybody had the opportunity to chat more informally.
Blue Sky would like to thank all those who attended and particularly David and Arielle Barratt who made their beautiful home, Haven Hall, available for the session. There are planned events to be held in Portsmouth and at Kings College London in the coming months.