The WorldSkills competitions certainly need more publicity in the UK. Before I went to Kazan, the members of my Livery Company (the Plaisterers) knew about it as we have been supporting WorldSkills for some time. Some of the 110 other Livery Companies know about it as they support their respective skills in the competition or at Colleges. However outside of that there is no real visibility. Why does it need to be known? So that we can celebrate the talent of the young people and appreciate the training and professionalism in the system that produces 37 excellent young people from the UK on the world stage but also to recognise and trumpet the educational system that provides regular daily training and skills to every new generation of young people ready to learn. We need to be proud of the work of the colleges and trainers and the businesses who invest in these young people. Whilst that system is not perfect we need to learn from the competitions and the liaison with other nations so that we can improve the training and lift the skills and ensure that our training can create the future workforce that we will need. It is that training culture that is so important and not just the wining of medals that should be the key to the UK's engagement with an integrated training and accreditation system.
That is a message that I would like to broadcast loud and clear. That we need to value the skills of these young people and to assist them in being able to learn and start their careers. The competitions are an important showcase but the day to day work and commitment is the story I will bring back to the Livery Companies, to the businesses and to Government.
The City of London Corporation has pledged to be a Plastic Free City. This means that the City is working to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics. The campaign offers a range of actions for businesses and individuals to join in order to consider and change their use of single-use plastics. It is free to join and uses a self-assessment process based upon trust. The approach is popular with businesses in the Square Mile because it allows them to set the timetable for making necessary changes to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics. There are now over 70 businesses who have signed up covering 73,000 staff ( 1 in 7 of the City workforce).
It is estimated on average that every adult in the UK buys 3 bottles of water each week. This means that in the City the usage by just our transient workforce is around 1.5 million bottles. Add to that the 9 million visitors per annum and the 9000 residents and that figure rises to around 2 million per week. That equates to 34 tonnes a week in the Square Mile alone. Further over 50% of the plastic bottles in the City's waste are for still water - what we can all drink fresh and clean out of the tap. Water refill points have been installed by the City Corporation and we will have 17 of these across the City by this autumn. This is in addition to the national Refill Campaign which has over 140 retail outlets offering free water refill points at their shops and cafes.
We can all play a part and so I have also pledged as an individual to follow the City's lead. I have a reusable cup for my takeaway coffee and a reusable water bottle to take tap water with me if needed. I was also pleased to attend the first City Plastic Free event on 4th July at Nomura's offices. This coincided with the Mayor of London's Climate Action Week. Speakers presented on statistics and ideas as to how to protect the environment and eliminate single use plastic from our operations. We can all learn more and borrow ideas from other businesses.
Thames 21 report that water bottles still form a major element of the plastics washed up on the foreshore of the River. Thames Water Utilities continue to provide safe clean drinking water through public supply at around 1000 times cheaper than bottled water. Therefore on 25th July I was pleased to join Thames 21 and various businesses and DEFRA colleagues to take part in the data collection and River clean-up on the foreshore of the River Thames at the ancient Anglo- Saxon dock at Queenhithe. As an inlet this dock collects a lot of rubbish on every tide and so there was quite a pile of things to see on the surface as well as other items that were stuck in crevices. Using a meter square measuring device we worked over the foreshore in meter square sections recording and removing the rubbish. Interesting finds included a whole rubber tyre (too heavy to move far and needing specialist help to take away for recycling) and a plastic toy gun. We felt we had cleared one tide's waste and learned a lot more about what we can all do.
If you want more information please sign up here https://www.plasticfreecity.london/