Ambassadors

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Anita Davenport-Brooks

People, Culture & Compliance Manager

Anita has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years, the majority of her career being within manufacturing/automotive industries. She is a member of the Manufacturing Engineering Industrial Advisory Board, developing and reviewing with the group, manufacturing engineering courses and degree apprenticeships in manufacturing and robotics. She is a member of WMAAN and a member of the GBSLEP Apprenticeship Hub. Anita supports external activities, engaging with schools and career events promoting manufacturing/engineering. Anita is driving the vocational qualification levels at Lander, with employee development at the forefront of business practice.  There are 270 employees at Lander including over 100 apprentices. Anita in the Chair of the West Midlands Region.

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SAIMA YAQUB

Talent Development Manager, Midland Heart

Saima is responsible for delivering apprenticeship programmes with a difference. She strives to make managers think of apprentices as an integral part of the team; someone who contributes to the team and organisational success by bringing their own unique talents and personality to the table to prepare Midland Heart for the future. Saima is the Vice Chair of the West Midlands Region and chairs the Greater Birmingham & Solihull sub-regional group.

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Chris Morris

Apprenticeship Scheme Leader, JCB Global Learning

Chris is passionate about apprenticeships, with the focus on ensuring each apprentice gets the correct training & development, which meets both their needs and the organisations.

Having worked at JCB for the past 16 years, Chris has extensive knowledge in Engineering, Manufacturing, Health & Safety and Human Resource Management. His role as an Apprenticeship Scheme Leader sees him working as part of a small team, managing the award winning Manufacturing, Engineering & Business Management Apprenticeship Schemes within JCB’s Global Learning Department.

Chris has been overseeing the management of apprentices for the past 9 years, having developed programmes with other organisations through trailblazer groups. Working with training providers in the development of programmes for current employees also ensures JCB is continually evolving and at the forefront of development, which is crucial in minimising the impact of the skills gap. Chris chairs the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire sub-regional group.

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Kirsti Wells

Business Development Manager, CADCOE

Kirsti is a passionate ambassador for skills and innovation within UK Construction. With a specialism for business development in training and education, she plays an essential role in demystifying industry perceptions, both with businesses and our next generation of architects, engineers and digital designers.

 

The Construction and Design Centre of Excellence (Cadcoe) is a unique front-runner in the development of new digital talent for industry, through a ground-breaking apprenticeship initiative. With an increasing number of aspiring female engineers joining the Cadcoe programme, Kirsti is able to provide insight into how the company is making this a career choice that appeals to all, the importance of a diverse workforce for future survival and the need for a fresh approach in how we communicate our industry to the next generation.

 

Kirsti also has a passion for celebrating and promoting the ‘super powers’ of neurodiverse individuals, providing a personal account of, not only the challenges they face but also the amazing attributes they can bring to our developing digital world!

Kirsti is the chair of The Marches sub-regional group.

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Sinead Mullarky

Internal Apprenticeship Programme Lead, Coventry University

Sinead has worked in the learning and skills arena for over fifteen years and is passionate about people development and creating opportunities for all.  Through her career to date, she has led on policy development for skills, implemented talent strategies and driven workforce planning.

 

At Coventry University we believe in our people and recognise the need to invest in our staff.  As an institution we are very proud of our apprentices as they enable us to achieve success, by helping to build capability and provide an inspiring environment in which to work. 

 

Her role as an Ambassador for apprenticeships is very important, as we need to heighten awareness and strive to shape quality programmes that create opportunities for learning at all ages. Sinead  is the chair of the Coventry & Warwickshire sub-regional group.

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Helena Baxter

Apprenticeship Lead, Walsall Council

Passionate about supporting Careers, Advice and Guidance around Apprenticeships, ensuring Schools get to hear how they are a fantastic way for young people to progress into the World of Work, learning new skills on the job whilst earning a wage. Apprenticeships are great for the economy helping employers like us tackle Skills Shortages and addressing an ageing workforce. Apprentices bring fresh new ideas to businesses up and down the country.

Walsall has a strategic plan to recruit new Apprentices but also train and up skill their existing staff through the Apprenticeship programme with a high number accessing the Higher and Degree Apprenticeships. They have nearly 400 Apprentices across the organisation ranging from Print and Design to Finance to Leadership and Management to HR and Recruitment.  Helena chairs the Black Country sub-regional group.

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Craig Watson

Managing Director, Blackwatch Associates

Craig runs his own management consultancy supporting businesses across all sectors and has worked within the Education & Skills sector for 20 years where he held senior positions with both Colleges and National Training providers with responsibility for External Funding, Partnerships, Business Development, JCP Contracts/ Employability, Work Based Learning, Business Implementation and managing successful delivery of Apprenticeship programmes.

 

He has a passion for Apprenticeships and Training having gained all his qualifications vocationally. As part of the Y&H AAN Steering Group he supports the region by linking with the ESFA, aligning activities to meet the Business Plan objectives and develops relationships with local LEPs/ careers hubs  & sector bodies to promote interaction across the region.

 

Craig worked on the National AAN refresh with the Employer & Strategic Networks team within NAS where he supported the 9 Regional networks.

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JENNY JOHNSTON

Training & Development Manager, KMF Group Ltd

Working at KMF for over 17 years, Jenny is the Training & Development Manager where she is responsible for the training, development and recruitment strategy, including their award-winning young & adult apprenticeship schemes. Recognised as a Women of the Year finalist, Jenny is recognised for her contribution to apprenticeships and encouraging females into engineering & STEM subjects. Jenny is the former Chair of the West Midlands Region.

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Johnathan Foot

Head of Apprenticeships & Early Careers, Compass Group UK&I

Johnathan is an accomplished thought leader with distinguished experience optimising people, processes, and systems to positively impact bottom line performance specialising in learning, pre-employability, and apprenticeship programmes across commercial and public sector organisations. 

At Compass Group Johnathan currently heads up the apprenticeships and early career development programmes, holding full accountability for the UK and Ireland Apprenticeship Levy. He engages with the board of directors and senior leadership teams, providing recommendations regarding organisational design and change management initiatives to improve professional development and career opportunities. Johnathan also has responsibility for establishing and aligning structure, implementing systems and processes, while providing leadership to drive growth, innovation, and continuous improvements.

 

Additional to his main role he also Co-Chairs the LGBTQ+ & Allies Committee known as 'Pride in Food'

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Sam Wilcox-Wright

Learning & Development Manager, HydraForce

Sam has spent the last seven years working within the Human Resources and Learning & Development departments at HydraForce. Having spent several years supporting the development of HydraForce’s apprentices, Sam is well-versed to seeing the fantastic benefits apprenticeships offer to both individuals and companies alike.  He now manages the Learning & Development function which includes their award-winning apprenticeship programme.

 

Sam moved into his current role in February 2019, where he champions employee development both personally and professionally. He is a passionate advocate of lifelong learning, believing that apprenticeships are a fantastic way to grow internal talent, and he continually identifies new apprenticeship standards while nurturing the existing apprenticeship scheme. 

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Rhoda Lee

Group Apprenticeship Relationship Manager, Halfords

Rhoda is responsible for managing all the Apprenticeship programmes for the Halfords Group. Halfords offer apprenticeships across Retail, Auto Centres, Head Office and their Distribution Centres. Rhoda joined Halfords in April 2020, after previously working for Aldi where she was responsible for their Apprenticeship programmes where at one point they had over 1000 apprentices.  Rhoda was part of the North West Ambassador Network whilst working for Aldi.

Rhoda has worked in Apprenticeships for just over 7 years and has a background in retail, recruitment, sales and welfare to work.

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Kim Holmes

Apprenticeship Scheme Manager, Network Rail

Kim has worked within Learning and Development for over 10 years during which time becoming an associate CIPD, with the last 3 years focusing on apprenticeships. Previously she worked for Virgin Trains achieving great results as an employer provider; managing and teaching apprenticeships resulting in a good OFSTED review.

Kim joined Network Rail this year to ensure her career and passion for apprenticeships carried on, where she is currently scheme manager for the higher level engineering apprenticeship schemes.

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Matthew Smallwood

Training Manager, Doosan

Matt was formerly the managing director of a small engineering company and a member of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), before moving into secondary education. He then spent 15 years in state secondary schools setting up engineering courses ranging from GCSE/A level, Diplomas, BTECs and NVQ’s and teaching GCSE Mathematics.

 

He was instrumental in engaging with local and national engineering companies linking them with engineering curricula activities and was part of the Wolverhampton Skills and Employment Board. He moved into apprenticeships as a Centre Manager for Marches Centre of Manufacturing Technology before becoming the Training Manager for Doosan Babcock.

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Jeff Baker

Head of Business Development, The Apprenticeship Centre

Jeff has a wealth of knowledge within the apprenticeship sector. As Head of Business Development with a national training provider, Jeff’s responsibility is to engage with large levy paying companies and advising them on the best way to utilise their levy fund. He also visits local school assemblies to talk about ‘what is an apprenticeship’. Jeff has worked on major projects which included Birmingham New Street Station (renamed Grand Central) helping to advise over 200 contractors on apprenticeships and construction training and Birmingham Airport run way extension.

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Chris Morris

Apprentice and Future Workforce Training Manager,  Yamazaki Mazak Uk Ltd

Chris's role involves encouraging people to consider apprenticeships and supporting them once they have joined the company. The former involves going into schools to promote apprenticeships as well as arranging for schools to visit Mazak for design challenges or factory tours. They also have an award winning work experience scheme in partnership with the EDT called Industrial Cadets which they are incredibly proud of.

Chris has had the great pleasure of developing apprenticeship schemes since 2010 when he established a successful programme at his previous employers, moving  to Mazak in 2014 where he evolved their apprenticeship on a much larger scale with numerous award winning apprentices along the way.

 

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Kate Whatley

Commercial Director, SPV-UK

Kate has been the Commercial Director at SPV Group for 15 years where she is set to take over as MD in 2021. She is a strong business development professional with a BA focused in Business Management from The University of Sheffield.

Among her accolades, she is a Construction Role Model 2019 and 2020, CITB Roofing Ambassador, set up The Building Futures Pathway course in conjunction with Juniper Training, a Fellow of the Institute of Roofing as well as the Midlands Regional Chair of The Institute of Roofing and Co-opted Board Member of the Institute of Roofing.

Kate is passionate about encouraging diversity within the sector and is determined to make a real difference in inspiring, fostering and developing future generations to enter the construction industry. She has supported over 25 new apprentices enter and develop with SPV Group over the last 15 years.

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Maxine Wheeler

Apprenticeship & Work Experience Manager, George Elliot Hospital

Maxine has worked in the Apprenticeship Sector for almost 20 years. She has managed an Apprenticeship Academy for British Gas, delivered Apprenticeships for Vodafone, led a team of Senior Business Managers who were collectively responsible for the delivery of £1.5 million ESFA Apprenticeship contract, and most recently Apprenticeship and Work Experience Manager for the GEH NHS Trust.

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Ben Rubery

Apprenticeship Programmes Manager, Capgemini

Once an apprentice himself, Ben is now responsible for the implementation and management of Capgemini UK’s award winning advanced, higher & degree apprenticeship programmes. Ben is passionate about apprenticeships and early careers, providing opportunities to enable the start of their careers to be comfortable, exciting and successful. With over 300 apprentices on programme Ben is committed to ensuring all are supported throughout the duration of their apprenticeship and beyond.

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Adam Tipper

Owner & Managing Director, NextGenmakers

Next Gen Makers makes engineering & manufacturing firms of all sizes great at attracting and retaining skilled apprentice talent – ensuring they have the skills required to future proof and thrive in an ever-changing industry. 

 

Through our 'UK first' Engineering Careers Prospectus initiative, Next Gen Makers also work with schools, colleges and manufacturers in the West Midlands to inspire the next generation of Engineering apprentices, raise awareness and change perceptions, connecting manufacturers to the best young talent and thus proactively tackling the Engineering skills shortage we currently face.

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Sarah Green

Apprenticeships Programme Lead

Sarah is a highly experienced learning and development professional with over 15 years’ experience in apprenticeships. She was an apprentice herself after leaving school where she found out first-hand what it is like to be a learner and the benefits of an apprenticeship. Sarah  is keen to learn and has recently started the Learning & Development Consultant Partner Apprenticeship alongside successfully leading the apprenticeship team at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital and being a chair of the Learning and Disability steering group.

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Kerry Davies

Apprenticeship Co-ordinator, Worcestershire Apprenticeships

Kerry has 20 years’ experience in the work-based learning industry, after moving on from her hotel-based career in February 2000. She has worked with two national training providers specialising in the delivery of apprenticeship training across various sectors, the main one being Hospitality to reflect her own industry background. She has worked in various roles including the delivery of training, assessment of learners, quality assurance and managing teams of trainers. This has provided her with a wealth of knowledge on apprenticeships and the funding requirements that go with Government led training. She moved into an IAG role in February 2018 joining Worcestershire Apprenticeships, where she can continue using her experience to support others with apprenticeships.

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Jenny Docherty

Learning & Development Partner, Housing 21

Jenny has worked within Learning & Development at Housing 21 for the last 12 years, Jenny’s role is to promote apprenticeship opportunities to existing staff to support development and to identify where the organisation can recruit apprentices.  Joining the Ambassador network has been a fantastic opportunity to work with other organisations who share the same passion for apprenticeships and what they can do for organisations.

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Kate MacDonald

Graduate & Apprenticeship Manager, Shropshire County Counci

Kate has worked for Shropshire Council for 9 years in various roles having started on the Graduate Programme in 2011;  since then she has been passionate about training and development where she has been creating opportunities for others to gain the skills and knowledge they need to develop in their role.

 

Having started in her role as Graduate/Apprenticeship Manager in 2018, Kate has developed a passion for apprenticeships and champions these across Shropshire Council.  She is keen to develop the offer further and continually strives for improvement and development.  Kate’s role requires her to drive the programme forward and be responsible for the continual growth of the internal apprenticeship offer for local authority’s staff and schools.

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Rosalie Penn

Strategic OD Business Partner (Apprenticeships), Dudley Metropolitan Council

Rosalie has worked in Learning and Organisational Development for many years and was excited to take this Lead role in enhancing the good work already done in Dudley for apprenticeships. Dudley’s history of employing apprentices, mainly in construction, business administration and customer service has now increased to 46 different subject areas ranging from level 2 up to level 7 since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. 

Offering apprenticeships not just to new recruits but encouraging career development and opportunities to the existing workforce has changed the whole mind set as to what and who can be an apprentice. Our youngest apprentice is 16 and our eldest is 61, showing that learning is a continuous process for your whole employment.

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Ross McPherson

Learning and Development Consultant - Knowledge and Capability,  Shell Energy

So this is me, I'm late to the professional party after spending the majority of my working life as a contracting Licensed Retail manager and only joining the world of office life just under 6 years ago. Since then I have moved from Operational Management into the land of L&D and as a previous apprentice I am loving the ability my new role provides me with - enhancing our talent pools, developing our teams and creating a happier workplace. I'm excited to see what changes, challenges and rewards I can encounter in the future!

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Kate Taylor

Employer Brand  & Engagement Co-ordinator, Ornua Foods

Based at their state-of-the-art cheese packaging facility in Leek, Ornua Foods has been working closely with a number of local, regional and national apprenticeship providers to ensure that they are welcoming in new, fresh talents to the business, but also to showcase the variety of benefits to their current workforce. They employ over 650 people within the Stoke and Staffordshire Moorland district and within Kate’s role she works closely with all employees, as well as the local high schools and colleges to help Ornua on its journey to be an Employer of Choice with the area.

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Amarjit Sahota

Culture Change Officer, Birmingham City Council

Amarjit has over 9 years HR experience within a local government environment and has recently become responsible for apprenticeships and the wider education offer such as graduates, interns and work experience at Birmingham City Council. Amarjit has been tasked with identifying the best way in which Birmingham City Council can utilise its Apprenticeships Levy by encouraging leaders and managers to start thinking about how the Levy can support succession planning, upskilling the current workforce and talent management. Having started his career as an apprentice, Amarjit is passionate about driving apprenticeships as he has experienced first-hand the value they offer and wants to see people prosper to be the best they can be.

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David Raine

Apprenticeship Manager, Poundland

David has been the Apprenticeship Manager for Poundland since December 2019. In his role he is Responsible for selecting providers and end point assessment organisations to ensure all schemes are developing skilled apprentices and future talent, he also manages the Levy pot, including NAS/ESFA requirements as well as financial controls and forecastin. David is particularly proud of the Poundland’s communication strategy where he aims to ensure all those involved in the successful delivery of the company’s apprenticeship programme are fully informed and supportive of the programme’s main aims and goals.

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Clare Keegan

Business Development Manager, Harper Adams University

Since February 2017, Clare has managed the Apprenticeships Team at Harper Adams University. Clare and her team develop collaborative, commercial relationships, strengthening the University’s links with regional, national and international businesses to support the growth and increase the diversity of Degree Apprenticeships. 

 

Clare has worked in HE for many years, although spent a short while managing Apprenticeships for large retailers and developing business in the Digital Ceramics Industry. Clare also worked on education projects for the Food and Drink sector. Clare started working in apprenticeships in 1995 for a small training company in Stafford and has been involved with business, innovation and skills development ever since.

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Lisa Massey

Future Talent Consultant, Orbit 

Lisa has worked within the area of Human Resources across a wide range of industries with experience which spans over a period of 10 years. She holds Chartered Status with the CIPD and is also a qualified Internal Workplace Mediator and coach. Lisa’s role as a Future Talent Consultant is to develop and deliver quality and consistent build your career (apprenticeship, graduate) and work inspiration (intern and other work placement programmes) across Orbit which maximise spend of Levy fund and contribute to meeting Orbit’s future skills requirements.

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Paul Fellows

Apprenticeship Development Lead, Marston's

Paul has worked within the hospitality sector for over twenty-five years and food has been a life-long passion, from joining Marston’s as a second chef, quickly progressing to head chef and then ten years as a chef trainer for the 180-year-old brewing, pub and hotel business! 
With the apprenticeship reforms and the introduction of new standards, apprenticeships now form a critical part of Marston’s early talent strategy. Paul’s priorities are to raise awareness of the apprenticeship opportunities available in hospitality and how chef careers are happening every day! 

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Edwina McQueen

Founder & Director, McQueen Education & Training Consultancy

Edwina is passionate about Apprenticeships & workplace learning having developed her own career path through the vocational route. She has been helping blue-chip companies design and implement their apprenticeship programmes for over 18 years where she has seen firsthand the opportunities apprenticeships bring both for the individual and the employer.

 

Edwina continues to work with both large and small employers as an independent Apprenticeship adviser/ coach, regularly giving Apprenticeship talks to Schools in her role as a Careers Enterprise Adviser. She is delighted to continue this work as an Apprenticeship Ambassador for the West Midlands.  

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Heather Morris

Placement Lead, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

Heather started her career within the NHS as a student nurse, from which she became a registered nurse working clinically and supporting learners in their journey.  She moved into training and development 15 years ago and has supported a large number of apprentices with their careers as an assessor/mentor and tutor. Currently Heather's role includes working closely with the managers, apprentices and departments in the Trust giving them support when employing and supporting apprenticeships, she liaises with external providers ensuring that the needs of the apprentice and the service is met.  The progression and support of apprentices continues to be her motivation.

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Katy Chesters

Employer Partnerships Manager, Staffordshire University

Katy has a wealth of knowledge and experience of working within the Apprenticeship arena. She has a proven track record of supporting employers to utilise Apprenticeships to develop and diversify their workforce.  Katy and her team work with employers nationally to develop the Universities Apprenticeship offer and to ensure that the University leads the way in developing new standards to match the ever-changing needs of employers.  Katy is committed to promoting the value of Apprenticeships to both employers and potential learners across the City.

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