Our speakers

This unique conference series promises to bring you the very latest thinking around all aspects of skills and youth employment policy. We have hand-picked some of the most experienced, thought-provoking and influential speakers in the skills sector to share with you the most recent policy developments, and to inspire you to take positive action.



The conference series has been designed to build your knowledge over 4 different sessions running from September through to December 2021.

Sign up to attend all 4 and receive a fantastic discount, or book onto the conference dates that suit you best…

Each date features a range of high-profile speakers who will expand your understanding and inspire you with the art of the possible!

  • Wednesday 22nd September – Quality of apprenticeships
  • Tuesday 19th October – Supporting young disadvantaged people into apprenticeships
  • Wednesday 24th November – Pathways to apprenticeships
  • Thursday 16th December – Supporting SME’s to use apprenticeships to build talent pipelines

Day 1: Quality of apprenticeships



Jonathan Mitchell is a Deputy Director at the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education, with responsibility for managing the Institute’s portfolio of work, and overseeing its communications, stakeholder engagement, corporate governance and employer membership functions. He has worked at the Institute since its formation in 2017, previously leading the work to co-create, with employer-led trailblazer groups, the body of occupational standards that form the foundation of the Institute’s apprenticeships and technical qualifications.



Jane is approaching her fifth anniversary with AELP. She joined the organisation in 2016 as Chief Operating Officer with a wealth of experience gained in the not for profit sector with an emphasis on creating opportunities for those from deprived or disadvantaged communities, was appointed as Managing Director in July 2020 and in January 2021 was appointed as Chief Executive of AELP. Jane is also a member of the AELP Board. Jane’s vision is to make AELP the UK’s leading membership service organisation for the employment and learning sector, an ambition that is coming to fruition as AELP is now recognised as the “go to” organisation for providers in this sector. Membership is growing steadily and the organisation is regularly attracting and recruiting new patrons.

david gallagher


David Gallagher is Chief Executive Officer at NCFE, a leading educational charity with business operations in Awarding, Assessment and Learning Technologies and Resources. David has enjoyed a successful career in employment and skills for over 18 years. His diverse experience spans from the public sector, working for the Learning and Skills Council (now ESFA), to frontline delivery for several leading employment and skills providers in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK. Having initially joined NCFE as Managing Director of NCFE EPA, David was appointed Chief Executive in 2019.

Paul RusseLl


Paul leads on social mobility in apprenticeships, looking to improve participation and achievement for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. He also works on aspects of apprenticeship quality, particularly the new Apprenticeship Workforce Development programme, a suite of training products for apprenticeship training providers.

Day 2: Supporting young disadvantaged people into apprenticeships


Social mobility commission

Edward Donkor is an experienced policy professional having worked in advisory roles across central government and arms-length bodies. Edward is currently Engagement Lead at the Social Mobility Commission with responsibility for the commissions’ employers programme – working across multiple sectors to create more inclusive and diverse socio-economic workforces.



Steve is the Director of Public Affairs at Impetus, an impact funder that finds, funds and builds the most promising charities focused on transforming the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.  The Public Affairs Team covers policy, research and communications and works to build partnerships and coalitions, directly influence public policy decisions with evidence-led insight and support our Philanthropy and Investment Teams to design and deliver our funds.

tom richmond


Tom has spent almost 20 years in the world of education. After beginning his career in teaching, Tom spent almost a decade working on policy development and research across the education, skills and welfare sectors, spending two years as an advisor to ministers at the Department for Education. In 2019 he launched the ‘EDSK’ think tank, which aims to design new and better ways for policymakers and educators to help every learner succeed – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Jonathan Smith

Essex County Council

The Targeted Employment team are passionate for SEND jobseekers to be supported on their journey into employment, ensuring their vocational aspirations are heard in order to have a bright ambitious future moving into the 21st century job market. My role focuses on Inclusivity around Apprenticeships whilst brokering a relationship with Training Providers, Employer and Individuals alike.

louise Wright


Louise is a Deputy Director within the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Her responsibilities include diversity inclusion and social mobility on apprenticeships, apprenticeships quality, expansion of traineeships for young people, and oversight of policy for people not in education employment or training. Louise has had a distinguished career in the civil service mainly based in the Department for work and pensions and in the Department for education. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2010 for services to the Department for work and pensions.

Louise was born with a visual impairment, is a former trustee of the Royal National Institute of blind people and is assisted by her guide dog ramble.

Day 3: Pathways to apprenticeships

Olly Newton


Olly Newton spent 12 years in the Department for Education working on policies including 14-19 diplomas, raising the participation age and finally as Head of Apprenticeship Strategy. Olly is now Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, where he oversees a programme of primary research, is lead author on all of the charity’s policy reports and runs the Edge Future Learning delivery programme for schools and colleges.



Ian Caplan has been Director for Employment, Youth and Skills Policy in the Department for Work and Pensions since April 2021. Prior to that he worked in the Department for Education on adult skills, retraining, Apprenticeships and the Lifelong Loan Entitlement programme. Ian has also spent 12 years in the Home Office, including leading work to tackle serious and organised crime, and is a graduate of the Major Projects Leadership Academy delivered by the Said Business School.

Clare Hatton


Clare Hatton has extensive experience leading change in skills delivery and organisational efficiency. Clare leads on the delivery of the WMCA’s skills portfolio including the recently devolved £130m Adult Education Budget and a range of pilot initiatives including digital retraining, and employment support pilots.  She works collaboratively with regional partners to shape and develop support for skills and employment support aligned to priority growth sectors.


Careers & Enterprise company

Speaker biography to come…

Day 4: SMEs and Good Youth Employers



Steve has been Head of Traineeships at the ESFA since Sept. 2021 and prior to that, was Head of Account Management for the Apprenticeship Service across London & South East.  As Head of Traineeships Steve is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the traineeship programme across England for young people whose preference is to find an apprenticeship or a job, allowing them to continue in learning with a work-based programme of training until they can progress into an apprenticeship or employment. This is at a time when the government has invested significantly in the programme to a level where there is scope to treble the number of traineeships offered in the 21/22 academic year.


Homeserve Foundation

As Director of the HomeServe Foundation, the registered charity of leading home repairs and improvements firm HomeServe PLC, Helen has driven forward the foundation’s mission to dramatically increase industry skills through apprenticeships. As part of that work, she has developed partnerships with over 50 key stakeholders who have a vested interest in developing the next generation of skilled trades people and increasing the number of apprenticeships by at least 25,000 over the next three years. In addition, she has led research projects in key areas such as improving training skills and apprenticeships and access to enterprise education for young people.


London progression collaboration

Anna is Director of the London Progression Collaboration, an initiative working with SMEs to increase the number of apprenticeships available to low-paid Londoners. Since launching in early 2020, the LPC has supported the creation of over 500 new apprenticeships in sectors ranging from digital and construction to social care and early years, and has secured over £8.5 million in unspent levy funds for transfer to SMEs. Anna oversees all aspects of the LPC team’s strategy and delivery, securing the support of large levy payers, giving hands-on apprenticeship support to small businesses, and fundraising to enable the project to flourish into the future.


Federation of small businesses (FSB)

Speaker biography to come…


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