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Day One Speakers & Panel

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Martin Dunford OBE

Chairman, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and Chief Executive, Skills Training UK

Martin is the Chairman of AELP and CEO of Skills Training UK. His company Skills Training UK is a significantly sized provider of bespoke Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes, with a particular focus on individual and business improvement and has direct contracts with both the Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency for the Study Programme and Youth Contract for 16/17 year old NEETS.

After University, Martin began his career in international (Europe, Japan, USA) sales and marketing, product and business development of high value, scientific instrumentation; a demanding hi-tech manufacturing and industrial market where competitive advantage is achieved via rapid continuous improvement. Continuous or business improvement particularly in the STEM sector is at the core of Skills Training UK’s approach to work based learning and Apprenticeship delivery.

Martin is one of the founders of AELP and has been elected as its Chairman for each of the last twelve years. Starting with a handful, AELP now has over 750 members.

Other appointments held include board membership of the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) and Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) where he was Chair of the Finance Committee. He was also a long standing member of both the Further Education & Skills Ministerial Advisory Panel and the Apprenticeship Ambassador’s Network.

Martin was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours list for services to skills training.

Mark Dawe

Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Mark Dawe was appointed Chief Executive of AELP in March 2016 following five years as CEO of the Exam Board, OCR. Previously was Principal and Chief Executive of Oaklands College in Hertfordshire when he had been a board member of AELP. He has a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum in the education field. Prior to his role at Oaklands College, Mark was Deputy Director, FE Strategy at the Department of Education and Skills having joined as Deputy Director, Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit in 2003. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Mark joined Canterbury College, becoming Head of Corporate Services in 1994. In 2000, he helped set up eGS, an e-procurement provider to the public sector. He is currently a governor of Sawston Village College and vice chair of Stapleford Community Primary School. He is also on the Board of the UfI trust. Previously he has been a corporation member of Lewisham College as well as being on a variety of National Boards. In his spare time he is a scout leader, cycles and supports Plymouth Argyle!

Nick Boles MP

Minister of State for Skills, BIS/DfE


Nick Boles MP was appointed as Minister of State jointly for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education on 15 July 2014. He was elected as the Conservative MP for Grantham and Stamford in May 2010 and re-elected in May 2015.


Nick went to school at Winchester College before going on to study politics, philosophy and economics at Magdalen College, Oxford. He went on to do a Masters in public policy at Harvard University in the US after winning a Kennedy Scholarship.

Political career

Nick was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Planning in September 2012.

In November 2010, he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Gibb MP, the Minister of State for Schools. In 2007, he was appointed as Head of David Cameron’s Implementation Team, which drew up the Conservative Party’s detailed plans for government. He was elected to Westminster Council in 1998 and became Chairman of Housing. He was chairman of the Housing Committee from 1999 to 2001, before stepping down in 2002.

Nick is also the founder, and a former director, of Policy Exchange, a centre right policy research institute.

Career outside politics

Nick spent the first 10 years of his career in business. He worked as a merchant banker for a few years in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe, helping state owned industries prepare for private ownership. He and a friend later formed a small group of companies supplying the DIY industry.

Martin Doel CBE

Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

Martin Doel took up his appointment as Chief Executive in 2008, after a successful career in the Royal Air Force. Martin's previous role was Director of Training and Education for all three Armed Services, working in the Ministry of Defence, the largest employer of apprentices in the UK. Prior to this he filled several operational support, personnel and training posts in the RAF, including service as the equivalent of a Director of Studies at the Joint Services Command and Staff College providing post-graduate level education to officers. He was appointed OBE in 1998 for his work in support of operations in the Balkans and for his contribution to Anglo-German relations. He holds a Masters Degree with Distinction from King's College, London and a First Class Honours Degree in Education from King Alfred's College Winchester. He was appointed a CBE in the 2016 New Year Honours for his work in education.

From April this year Martin was appointed as the first Further Education Trust for Leadership Professor of Further Education and Skills at University College London (Institute of Education) initially combining this with his role at AoC, but moving fully into the role from 1 September when he will stand down as AoC Chief Executive

Rt Hon Priti Patel MP

Minister of State for Employment

Priti Patel was appointed Minister of State (Minister for Employment) on 11 May 2015. She was Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury from July 2014 to May 2015. Priti was first elected the Member of Parliament for Witham in May 2010.

Priti attended a comprehensive school in Watford before studying economics at Keele University and then completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Essex.

Priti was elected as the Member of Parliament for Witham in May 2010. In November 2013, the Prime Minister appointed Priti as the first ever UK Indian Diaspora Champion.

Priti previously worked in the communications industry and prior to the General election in 2010, she was the Director of Corporate Communications at Weber Shandwick.

Priti is married with a young son.

The Minister of State for Employment is responsible for:
• Employment, unemployment, youth unemployment and Fuller Working Lives
• Jobcentre Plus
• The Work Programme and Work Choice
• Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Employment and Support Allowance
• Income Support
• Childcare

Nichola Hay

Outsource Training and Development

Nichola Hay is an expert in the delivery of work based learning. With over 20 years of operational experience and currently as the Director of Outsource Training and Development, part of the Seetec Group, she has built a reputation for the delivery of high quality learning experiences for young people within the sector. Nichola is a Board member for the AELP, sits on the 14-19 Strategic Group for Hounslow in West London, and previously Chair of the Work Based Learning Alliance Provider Forum in West London and a Board member for the Work Based Learning Alliance in London. Currently Nichola has established a working group with the SFA, DWP, BIS, JCP and NCS to support the promotion of Apprenticeships to schools, colleges, young people and their parents. A pilot project with the ambition to roll the model out across England. Working and consulting with national brand names Nichola is actively involved in reviewing NOS and the implementation of Trailblazers reflecting her long and established involvement in a variety of sectors.

Dr Ann Limb CBE DL

Chair of SEMLEP

Buckinghamshire entrepreneur Dr Ann Limb CBE DL was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the life and community of Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands.

Ann, who also chairs tourism service Destination Milton Keynes, is a well-known champion of Milton Keynes, campaigns tirelessly to promote the city, and is also Chair of the biennial MK International Festival and Chair of the MK Major Events Board, which has overall responsibility for delivery in stadium:mk of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

In the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Ann Limb was awarded a CBE. Ann began her career as a teacher and lecturer in 1977 and by 1988 was a College Principal at Milton Keynes College. It is a role she held for eight years before becoming Principal and Chief Executive of Cambridge Regional College.

From 2000 to 2005, Ann was Chief Executive of the University for Industry, which is now the successfully privatised digital learning organisation learndirect, and the digital social enterprise Tinder Foundation. From 2005, as Senior Vice President with the international strategic management consultancy Citizen Service Transformation, Ann advised governments in the UK and overseas.

Ann has held an extensive range of public and private sector non-executive directorships, together with many educational, voluntary and community appointments. Nationally, her current government roles in addition to Chairing SEMLEP include Non-Executive Director of the Homes and Communities Agency and Chair of the Environmental Regulator ENTRUST.

In 1998 Ann founded a national educational charity, the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which works to overcome social injustice by providing financial bursaries, mentoring and support to disadvantaged students.

The Rt Hon Lord Lingfield DLitt EdD DL

The Chartered Institution for Further Education

Lord Lingfield was knighted in 1993 for his services to education and created a Peer for life in 2010. He has been a teacher, researcher, lecturer and education policy maker. In the 1990s he was a senior adviser in education to the government and in charge of the policy of independence for state schools, and was Pro-Chancellor of Brunel University from 2006-13. He is author of the Lingfield Report on Professionalism in Further Education, and currently Chairman of the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation, CVQO, and the English Schools Orchestra.

Gordon Marsden MP

Shadow FE/HE & Skills Minister

Gordon Marsden MP was elected as the first Labour Member of Parliament for Blackpool South in 1997. He was educated at Oxford University, University of London and Harvard. Prior to his election, he was the Editor of History Today magazine. As a Member of Parliament Gordon previously was Labour Shadow Minister for Regional Growth, chair of Parliament’s All Party Education and Skills Committee, and a former member of Education and Business and Skills Select Committees. He is currently the Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills.

Keith Smith

Programme Director, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Keith Smith has worked in the Skills system for more than 20 years. He has worked closely with unemployed people running local Job Clubs and implementing local employment projects. In recent years he has been leading the development and delivery of the national Further Education and Apprenticeship funding systems. Keith has been a Governor of a number schools and University Technology Colleges. He is currently the Programme Director with responsibility for implementing Apprenticeship funding reforms and the Apprenticeship Levy.

Sue Husband

Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, Skills Funding Agency

Sue Husband is the Director of the National Apprenticeship Service at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), an executive agency of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The SFA is responsible for just under £4 billion of funding each year, supporting skills training through contracts with employers, over 1,000 colleges and private training organisations in England.

Sue is responsible for the two customer facing services of the SFA – the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the National Careers Service.

NAS supports the delivery of apprenticeships and traineeships in England, offering free impartial advice and support to employers looking to recruit for the first time or expand their programme. This includes simplifying the process of recruiting an apprentice or trainee through the support of employer focused teams and the Find an apprenticeship and Find a traineeship recruitment sites on GOV.UK where employers can advertise their vacancies and potential apprentices or trainees can apply.

Sue’s role includes: the promotion of apprenticeships; the provision of a responsive, high-quality service to employers; working with partners to improve the design and delivery of high-quality apprenticeships and promoting and supporting traineeships as part of the apprenticeship family.

Sue also has responsibility for the National Careers Service, which provides impartial careers information and advice and guidance to adults and young people to support their decision- making about learning and work.

Sue’s role includes: ensuring the National Careers Service provides high-quality information, and independent, professional advice and guidance for those who need it most. This is done whilst ensuring people are inspired and motivated to reach their full potential, to make learning and career choices which are well-informed, through the supply of further education, work-based training and higher education which reflects individual, employer and labour market demand. The National Careers Service work with employers, schools, colleges, charities and social enterprise to ensure that people not only access and understand the information that is available, but are also inspired by the opportunities available to them locally.

Douglas Strycharczyk

Chief Executive Officer, AQR/AQR International

Doug is the CEO of AQR and for AQR International – Founded in 1989, AQR is now recognised as one of the most innovative (and fast growing) test publishers in the world working in more than 80 countries.

AQR established its reputation initially as a leader in Team Building and leadership development. Doug’s work has been featured on BBC Television where Prof John Adair described the material as “highly effective”.

In recent years, Doug has worked with Professor Peter Clough to define mental toughness and to create the world’s leading measure of mental toughness. Doug is now recognised as a leading authority on the application of mental toughness to the worlds of work, education, sport as well as social applications. His expertise is focused on helping organisations develop performance, increase retention and employee engagement and more effectively dealing with issues such as bullying and the impact of change.

Doug has more than 30 years expertise in a variety of Line, HR & Consultancy roles with a number of blue chip businesses. Doug’s areas of expertise also include Organisational Development, Senior Management/Leadership Development and Top Team Assessment.

Doug has co-authored with Professor Peter Clough chapters in the following leading books:

Psychometrics in Coaching (2009) (Kogan Page & Association for Coaching)
Leadership Coaching (2010) (Kogan Page & Association for Coaching)
Developing Mental Toughness. Improving performance, wellbeing and positive behaviour in others. (2011) (Kogan Page)
Developing Mental Toughness: Coaching Strategies to Improve Performance, Resilience and Wellbeing (2015) (Kogan Page)

Martha Jennings

Sky Academy Starting Out Manager, Sky

Martha is Sky Academy Starting Out Manager, she’s been at Sky for just under four years and in that time has established an award winning centralised work experience programme before being promoted to manage all centralised entry level talent schemes including Graduates, Apprenticeships and Work Experience which together bring in over 1200 young people to Sky each year. Prior to Sky, Martha has gained extensive experience providing opportunities for young people to develop their skills and confidence primarily in the charity sector; ranging from running the country’s biggest one day enterprise challenge ‘The Make Your Mark Challenge’, supporting schools fundraising at Comic Relief through to setting up alumni networks in state schools at Future First.