February 11th 2020 | Central London


Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, AELP

Mark was appointed as the Chief Executive of AELP over 2 years ago.  He is on the Board of WorldSkills Uk as well as a range of government boards such as the ESFA Advisory Board, IfA Quality Alliance and the DfE’s Apprenticeship Stakeholder Board.

Most recently, Mark Dawe was the Chief Executive of OCR, the exam board, for 5 years. He has been a governor of primary schools, secondary and a further education college. Mark has a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum in the education field. Prior to his role at OCR, Mark was Principal of Oaklands FE College (and AELP Board Director) having been Deputy Director, FE Strategy at the Department of Education and Skills and before that as Deputy Director, Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit after joining the department in 2003. 

Having read Economics at Cambridge University before qualifying as a chartered accountant at KPMG, 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 gets his grit and resilience from supporting Plymouth Argyle and Boreham Wood, cycling and four school aged children.

Sonali Parekh, Head of Policy, Federation of Small Businesses

Sonali Parekh is the Head of Policy for the Federation of Small Businesses. Sonali has led the FSB’s research programme on the impact of Brexit on small businesses. This has included four detailed research reports and a summary statement. Prior to that she spent over fifteen years in the Civil Service most recently as Deputy Director for Markets for Government Services / Commercial Function at the Cabinet Office and before that Senior Adviser for the Prime Minister's Implementation Group. She also held roles in Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Work & Pensions and Department for Education.

Twitter: @fsbsonali | @fsb_policy

Professor Steven McIntosh, Centre for Vocational Education Research, University of Sheffield

Steven McIntosh is a member of the Department of Economics at the University of Sheffield, where he is the local node leader of the Centre for Vocational Education Research. He is an applied labour economist, with a particular focus on education issues and how they relate to labour market outcomes. Steven has produced a large body of work looking at the rates of return to qualifications, particularly vocational qualifications and apprenticeships, using survey and administrative data. A second body of research has considered the match between the demand for and supply of skills, and the extent to which employees work in jobs appropriate for their skills and abilities. He has undertaken research for a wide range of national and international public bodies, most particularly for the Department for Education in the UK.

Lucy Sydney, Director of Strategic Relationships for VTQ , Ofqual

Lucy Sydney took up her post as Director of Strategic Relationships for Vocational and Technical Qualifications at Ofqual in May 2017.  Her team is responsible for engaging and influencing key stakeholders across the VTQ landscape, promoting awareness and understanding of Ofqual's work, and feeding in views from those who use and depend on qualifications.  Primary interlocutors include 150+ Awarding Organisations; employers' organisations; schools, colleges and their representative bodies; the Department for Education and members of its departmental family; and other parts of UK and devolved Government.  Over the last 20 years she has served in a range of stakeholder engagement, policy and operational delivery roles at the heart of government, in and around Cabinet Office/HM Treasury and their arms' length bodies.

Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships, BCS The Chartered Institute for IT

Annette joined BCS in September 2018 to strategically lead and drive forward growth in digital apprenticeships and is responsible for the organisation’s end-point assessment.

Previously, as the director of strategic policy at People 1st, Annette oversaw the design and development of apprenticeship standards and assessments on behalf of employer trailblazers in the visitor economy sector, and establish one of the first employer-led external quality assurance models.
Annette has over 20 years’ experience of setting industry standards, influencing and designing vocational learning and aligning employers’ skills needs with government policy.


Philip Cox, Chief Executive, Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership

Philip joined Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership in July 2014.  His role includes overseeing the development of the sub-region’s Local Industrial Strategy alongside the delivery of the LEP’s programme of £½ billon of capital projects, the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, and the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub.

Prior to joining Cheshire and Warrington, Philip was a Civil Servant, most recently as the Director for Local Economies at the former DCLG.

His background is as an Economist and his Civil Service career included serving as the Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minster and working on issues such as the sale of the Millennium Dome to create the O2 Arena, the establishment of Enterprise Zones and overall responsibility for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in England.

Twitter: @candwep

Jordan Rehill, Research Analyst, Education and Employers

Jordan Rehill is Research Analyst at Education and Employers. Alongside Dr Anthony Mann and Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel he has co-authored a number of projects on employer engagement in education with organisations such as the EEF, Teach First and the Careers and Enterprise Company. His research is referenced in government documents such as the Career Strategy (2017) and career education policy briefings. Prior to joining Education and Employers, Jordan worked for the charity Redthread where he assisted research in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime looking at issues of youth violence.

Twitter: @Edu_EResearch 


Alison Morris, Executive Director of Sector Development at the Education and Training Foundation

Alison has worked in the skills sector for over fifteen years. She is currently Executive Director of Sector Development at the ETF, where she is responsible for technical education, social mobility and inclusion, learning technologies, and initial teacher education.

Alison previously worked at UK Commission for Employment & Skills where she carried out policy and research work in areas including higher level skills, employability, education-business links and careers guidance.


Anthony Knowles, Head of National Account Management (North), National Apprenticeship Service

Having worked on Apprenticeships for twenty years Anthony is passionate about the positive economic and social transformation that they deliver. His role is about leading a team focussed on providing a dedicated account management service to the largest employers to enable them to take full advantage of the opportunities apprenticeship reform will bring.

Anthony works as part of a senior management team with responsibility for the continuous development and delivery of the highly regarded, customer focussed National Apprenticeship Service.

Twitter: @HeScoresGoals | @Apprenticeships@FireItUp_Apps