Professions Week is an event that’s intended to help young people understand what the variety of professions can offer them, and members of the CIPA Informals’ Committee were lucky enough to be invited to the Houses of Parliament to attend the Professions Week 2014 reception on 10 November. The reception was held in the House of Commons Members’ Dining Room, just next to the House of Commons and House of Lords (exciting!), and it brought together representatives of the professions, MPs, students and others to network, have a chat, and listen to a variety of speakers.
Sarah Hathaway (Chair of Access to the Professions and Head of ACCA UK) and Baroness Garden (Government Whip) told us what Professions Week is all about, and highlighted some of the results of the Professions Week Research Report (which can be downloaded from here); Dylan Valentine then talked about his career as a Problem Analyst at Fujitsu and the benefits of apprenticeship schemes, and Dr Melanie Windridge highlighted the value of studying STEM subjects.
Given that CIPA and ITMA are working to increase awareness of (and access to) the IP professions, it was great to be able to talk to some secondary-level students from St Albans about what IP is and what being a (trainee) patent attorney involves. Under some intense grilling, I unfortunately let slip how many exams we have to pass to qualify, but Gabor saved the day by talking about how exciting it is working with new technologies. I also met some very impressive apprentice accountants who had just finished their A-levels, and have just started working in various Government departments.
After the reception Gabor and I popped into the House of Commons to contribute to the debate on the European Arrest Warrant (by watching from behind the Perspex screen), and then dropped in to the House of Lords, where we heard some of the debate on the Infrastructure Bill. I think our best spot was John Prescott (now Baron Prescott) going into the House of Lords, but Play School fans will also be excited to hear that I saw Floella Benjamin (now Baroness Benjamin) just before the reception.
This event was a fantastic opportunity to meet a variety of people who I wouldn’t necessarily meet in the normal course of my duties, and having never been to the Houses of Parliament before it was amazing to be invited there, and to be able to visit the House of Commons and House of Lords. All in all, it was a great experience!
(Regional Secretary – Oxford)