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Laura Kedward

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Laura joined the Board in 2019 and is the Chair of the NWAAN. Graduating in Business and Human Resource Management, Laura very quickly found her niche in Learning and Development. Working across a range of sectors, she gained a wealth of experience before working on a number of projects at European Metal Recycling Ltd. She has been instrumental in helping to develop the Metal Recycling General Operative apprenticeship through the Trailblazer working group. This standard was successfully launched in 2018 and went on to win Excellence in Learning and Development at the recycling awards. Following this success, Laura went on to support a progression route in this perhaps often overlooked sector, developing the Metal Recycling Technical Manager standard.


Tom Russell


Tom has worked in learning and development for 15 years, firstly as a Training and Operations Manager in the Army and Ministry of Defence, before moving into a role managing trainee programmes at Bentley Motors. He is now extremely proud to work for a company with such a long tradition of supporting Apprentices but also keen to ensure that the knowledge, experience and expertise is shared to others.


Tom is passionate about raising awareness of the value of apprenticeships to individuals and businesses and developing sustainable talent pipelines. He is also a Strategic Board Member for the Cheshire and Wirral Maths Hub and contributes to the Automotive and Digital Trailblazer groups.

Tom is a member of the NWAAN Board.


Lloyd Thomas


Lloyd is an experienced Training and Development professional passionate about the contribution that developing people and organisations can make to a business.


He started his career in Vocational Learning 24 years ago in Training Provision before moving into Corporate Talent and Organisational Effectiveness. Lloyd believes that work-based learning through Apprenticeships can really add value to support the talent and skills agenda within any business. He fully supports the benefits of learning on the job whilst gaining invaluable knowledge, skills and behaviours.


Lloyd has spent the past 10 years as Apprenticeship Partner at The Co-op and is passionate about Food retailing. He has previously very much enjoyed working with 3 leading retailers to integrate Apprenticeships into their training and development offer. Lloyd also chaired the Retail Trailblazer Group and currently chairs the Retail Quality and Skills Board.


Lloyd enjoys working at the Co-op because of its history, values and principles and truly believes that the Co-operative movement is an excellent start for people of all ages to begin or change their careers

Lloyd is an experienced ambassador and is a member of the NWAAN Board. 

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Tim Cutler


Tim initially trained and worked as a professional chef for 17 years but for the past 19 years he has worked in apprenticeship/ work-based learning & education area, having taught & assessed in the catering & hospitality sector. Tim roles have included leading, managing and developing curriculum across several other sectors both in private training provider and colleges.


As Manager of the Lancashire Work Based Learning Forum Tim supports colleges, private training providers and universities across the county. The Forum enables him to work closely with the LEP and Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub to develop skills and careers through projects and initiatives. He has always been an advocate of influencing policy and reform for the benefit of the apprentice, employer and training providers. Tim is part of the NWAAN Board and leads the activity for the Lancashire sub-region.


Cath Robinson


Having worked in FE/HE sector for over 20 years Cath has been surrounded by apprenticeships and apprentices. In a previous role she had an apprentice working alongside her and saw daily the benefits this route gave to them. Completing her own apprenticeship is a very different experience to what Cath is used to; after leaving school she attended sixth form college for 2 years before continuing onto university to study a 4-year degree so after 24 years of undertaking only short qualifications, the transition to studying via an apprenticeship route has been quite challenging. However, she is reaping the benefits of improving her knowledge and subsequently transferring this into her day-to-day job.


With her insight, Cath feels that by no means an apprenticeship is the easy option that many people believe it to be and you will need to be able to balance working with studying. She has found this to be the most challenging part of her own apprenticeship, but the rewards far outweigh any challenge!


Cath is part of the NWAAN Board and supports Tim Cutler with the activity for the Lancashire sub-region.


Georgia Fitzgerald


The Juice Academy is a not-for-profit Digital Content Marketing Apprenticeship programme which was founded in 2013. Georgia has managed The Academy for over three years and helped create over 200 jobs, working closely with both employers and apprentices.


She is a voluntary Enterprise Advisor through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority initiative - BridgeGM and is a committed member of the skills committee at Pro-Manchester, which represents the business community across the region to promote the North as the place to do business.

Georgia is a member of the NWAAN board.


Mel Dodd

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Mel leads the Apprenticeship Support Service by Be-More  (formally Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Hub) in partnership with the Combined Authority. Leading a highly skilled, enthusiastic and innovative team who inspire residents on the amazing apprenticeship opportunities in Liverpool City Region (LCR) she supports the growth in the number of vacancies available with our highly successful Employer & Apprentice Ambassador programme.  


Mel started her career as a Trainee at the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre and has worked for the last 25 years locally, nationally and internationally within the Education, Business and Skills Sector. This includes 14 years working directly as part of the Senior Leadership Team, both operationally and strategically in the public and private sector, leading on contract management, business strategy, development and transformation.  Seeing individuals achieve positive outcomes into Apprenticeships makes Mel’s job one that she passionately loves. Mel is part of the NWAAN Board and leads the activity for the LCRCA sub-region.


Pat Jackson


Pat leads the Cheshire and Warrington LEP’s work on skills and education where she works directly with the LEP’s Employers’ Skills and Education Board to establish skills and education priorities.  

One of their top priorities has been to establish a Pledge network where employers work with local partners to inspire young people about new technologies and career opportunities.  Apprenticeship ambassadors and young ambassadors are integrated into our Pledge network. 

Pat is a member of the NWAAN Board linking apprenticeship work from the AAN and the LEP

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Craig Watson


Craig runs his own management consultancy, Blackwatch Associates, 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 NWAAN Board 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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Mark Donnelly


Mark leads on apprenticeships for BAE Systems. With a 1st Class Honours Degree in Education, Mark spent several years in teaching before moving to the private sector for a 6 year period designing corporate training solutions for the automotive and pharmaceutical sectors. From 2007 to 2014 Mark worked in the public sector for the SFA/NAS and BIS before joining BAE Systems. Mark is passionate about apprenticeships, he is Chair of the Aerospace/Airworthiness apprenticeship Trailblazer group and supports the Maritime Defence Trailblazer group too, driving forward the design of new apprenticeship standards for the sector. Mark’s job role encompasses making policy and strategy decisions for over 1700 BAE Systems apprentices in the UK from Level 2 to Masters Level 7. Diversity and inclusion is an integral part of Mark’s work and he is an active employer member of the Government’s Apprenticeship Diversity Champion Network. Mark is the former Chair of the network.


Laura Forrest

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Laura is the Retail Training & Development Manager for Iceland and has worked in training & development for over 12 years and is currently focusing on her TAP Master Diploma. She has worked within retail for over 26 years and has a real passion for cultivating talent and developing capability. She is responsible for the retail training & development agenda that includes apprenticeships.


Although new to the network and with around 1200 apprenticeships and an award-winning apprenticeship programme, she wants to continue to share and contribute to the bigger apprenticeship agenda to ensure that they benefit both learner and business.


Julia Teale


Julia's career began in 1984 when she joined Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars as a business apprentice.  After gaining valuable experience across the business Julia focused her career on HR and particularly Learning & Development taking responsibility for Apprentice and Graduate development as part of her role as Skills Development Manager for Bentley Motors Limited. 

Passionate about apprenticeships, Julia is an advocate for developing the skills and knowledge individuals need to be successful in their chosen career path. Julia is delighted to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador to ensure potential apprentices and parents are clear on what fantastic Apprenticeship opportunities there are and also to encourage as many businesses as possible to recruit apprentices to boost their skills needs.

Julia has recently joined Mid Cheshire Hospital Trust, focusing on inspiring young people about career choices in the NHS.

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Dawn Smith

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Dawn has over 13 years’ experience in the management of Apprenticeship & Graduate programmes, mainly within Real Estate, Construction & Engineering.  In 2021, Dawn joined Trafford Housing Trust (THT) a profit-for-purpose housing association with a mission to make society fairer for everyone, as their Emerging Careers Advisor.  She is extremely proud to work THT who strive to make a difference, have a passion for social justice and a strong history of supporting Apprentices.


Dawn is passionate about spreading the word of Apprenticeships and the opportunities they present to everyone.  She is excited to join the Apprenticeship Ambassador network, to share best practice and knowledge, plus raise further awareness of the value of Apprenticeships. 


Anne Ashworth


Anne was educated in Scotland and England where she lived on the Queen Mother's estate as a teenager. She  joined the Womens' Royal Naval Service and was the first unofficial WRN at sea.

Anne has over 30 years experience and expertise working in the FE & Skills Sector.where she has worked for a number of awarding organisations. She has been an inspector for the sector since 1999 and has worked at Pearson Plc since 2015.

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Paul Marshalsea

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An experienced learning and development professional, with specialism in outdoor experiential learning. Paul leads Outward Bound’s® Early Careers Business Development team on the work they do in developing behaviours and skills of apprentices, graduates and early talent from organisations across the UK. Focusing on the development of workplace behaviours such as: self-management, team working, confidence, resilience, influence, planning, leadership and enhanced communication (which can be funded from Apprenticeship Levy)  skills that enable individuals to be better equipped for their careers.

The Outward Bound Trust deliver powerful experiential change focused on individual awareness and team behaviours. Using a high challenge, outdoor environments, they are able to create unique learning environments that accelerates both the depth and time of learning in individuals and provides a safe setting for them to explore their potential.

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Sam Johnston


I have a huge passion for helping the communities we live and work in. I am responsible for Brother UK's talent programme, employee engagement, cultural development and corporate communications. I spend my time helping to build strong relationships in the local community, enabling job opportunities for young people, helping them to become "work ready" by offering employability training, coaching and mentoring and insight and support into the world of work. I am a huge advocate for apprenticeships and vice chair our local Tameside Apprenticeship committee, I also sit on the GM Digital industry board, where we  collaborate to help bridge the gap between business and education, offering experience and understanding of industry needs.


Paul Porter


Paul is a People and Leadership professional with a proven track record in delivering significant performance improvement through people, particularly within the SME Market. Passionate about people, growth, employee engagement, and experience that enables individuals and teams to be the best they can be every day. He has a firm belief that things will work out well with a collective and inclusive approach. Paul's role at Totus Environmental works closely with leadership team to develop and implement a multifaceted people strategy that will support the business in achieving its vision and realising growth plans both in the UK and Europe.

Totus Environmental is one of the UK’s leading providers of innovative international waste management solutions. Working with clients across the commercial, municipal and hazardous waste sectors we have developed an unrivalled network of recycling and recovery outlets in the UK and across Europe.

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Kate O’Callaghan

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Kate started her career in the military almost 20 years ago, on exit she completed her own apprenticeship followed by a degree in business management.  The past 12 years have been spent in L&D, specifically experiential learning and more recently apprenticeship delivery too. 


Now working for a training provider, Skern Training & Skills, who not only deliver apprenticeships but also behavioural development programmes through experiential learning. The company also employs around 150 apprentices annually.  Kate is passionate about developing people and apprenticeships, working with many employers across the UK to design and develop unique and engaging programmes.    


Jonathan Aghanian


Jonathan is responsible for the operational delivery and multi-faceted coordination of the Apprenticeship Scheme at STFC Daresbury Laboratory.  Predominantly their apprentices work in Engineering, Computing, and Project Management roles. However, Daresbury has a wide-range of apprentices working in various roles, disciplines, and levels across all departments – from early-career school leavers, right through to senior managers.


Jonathan has many years of experience working across various youth/employment projects and strongly believes apprenticeships provide sustainable, rewarding careers at any stage in your working life.


Victoria Douglas

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Victoria has over 10 years’ experience in apprenticeships. Initially working for a national apprenticeship training provider she supported other blue chip organisation across a wide range of sectors develop their apprenticeship strategies. Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy Victoria has worked in large and Marco businesses, developing apprenticeship recruitment and development programmes.  Victoria’s specialism is in engineering, though she has a broad knowledge of apprenticeships including project management and leadership and management and leadership programmes.

Victoria’s career highlight was being awarded highly commended macro employer with Interserve in the Midlands regional finals of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2016


Kat Healey


Kat has a background in both construction and shipping, with over 8 years of experience working in training and supporting skills through apprenticeships. She is a keen advocate for training & skills and have various memberships of training groups and forums to help support business development through the investment in people. 


Kat is excited to be an apprenticeship ambassador as she has seen first-hand, the impact that apprenticeships have had on individuals, businesses and communities.  Now more than ever we need to champion the development of skills through real life learning and the coming weeks and years will be exciting. 

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Kim Holmes


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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Ian Lenehan

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Ian is the Recruitment Manager for McCann Manchester, overseeing their Apprenticeship programme. As an agency McCann are proud to have been investing in Apprentices since 2011 and they are delighted to see many who started on the programme, still progressing their careers with them. Ian believes wholeheartedly in the importance of investing in future talent and the Apprenticeship scheme is an essential part of this, enabling young people to experience agency-life whilst developing the skills required to pursue their careers. The energy, enthusiasm and passion Apprentices bring to McCann is a key part of their culture and something he would recommend to all employers.


Charlotte Webster


Charlotte has been part of the Early Careers team at First Response Finance since 2017, working as an Early Careers Mentor supporting the students through their apprenticeship. The reason she got involved in apprenticeships is that she can see the value in them.


Charlotte started her career using the more 'traditional' route of university full time then employment, however, if she had her time again, she would of have done a degree apprenticeship. Having apprentices in the business has made a big difference to processes, change and creative thinking. Charlotte looking forward to being involved in the network and supporting apprenticeships for the future.


Lee Wright


Lee started his career working for an apprenticeship training provider working with local and national businesses, sector skill councils and the National Skills Academy for Retail. Lee moved to the other side of the table, providing talent management and apprenticeship strategies for organisations in a variety of sectors such as retail, social housing, rail and manufacturing including gaining employer provider status for a number of businesses. In 2019, Lee joined Encirc to develop its internal and external talent programmes, with the exciting launch of the ‘Ignite’ programme in early 2020 across the UK and Europe.

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Sarah Eckersley


Working previously as a HR generalist Sarah became involved in the amazing world of apprenticeships when she joined Trafford Council about 4 years ago. Currently she leads on all internal apprenticeships and the management of the apprenticeship levy. Sarah is hugely passionate about apprenticeships and the role they play in developing current and future workforce talent. She truly believes apprenticeships are the best way for people to learn as you can do them at any age, in an ever growing number of areas, whilst gaining invaluable experience. She is excited about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador to spread the word about how great Apprenticeships are.


Andy Grant


Andy joined Elior in 2010 and has wide-ranging HR experience in a number of roles including HR Management and Internal Communications. His personal learning journey with the Company has seen him progress through CIPD levels 3 and 5 and on to obtaining a Masters degree in HR Management in 2014.  In his current role as Talent & Resourcing Manager, one of Andy’s key focus areas is the company’s apprenticeship program and he is fully committed to investing in colleagues to support the development of current and future talent. Andy is excited to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador and is enjoys sharing knowledge and best practice with others in the network.


Paul Drew


After working in digital marketing and apprenticeships for over 20 years Paul set up Apprentify, to answer two simple questions – 1) how can businesses harness digital apprenticeship talent to drive growth & 2) how can apprentices get access to the very digital opportunities to set their careers alight. It’s a simple concept that takes the very best digital marketing training & harnesses them with innovative training techniques & technologies to meet business growth needs. It’s not just about knowledge transfer it is about the application & impact on a business and a person’s career much further on than training/development.


Deborah Barker


I have come from the world of learning and development rather than from a traditional apprenticeship background. I have entry this wonderful and enabling world which offers opportunities for all at any age.  I am passionate apprenticeships and what is available. The breadth and depth of what is available constantly amazes me.  I am overjoyed to join the ambassador network to represent Healthcare apprenticeships in the private sector.


Emma Blackburn

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Emma is responsible for creating, implementing and managing a high-impact and meaningful apprenticeship programmes to the individuals and the wider business. This year has been named as one of the top 100 employers offering apprenticeships and has also been shortlisted for the apprenticeship programme of the year by the Learning and Performance Institute.


She has a background in supporting Greater Manchester skills initiatives including, supporting small to medium companies establish and grow apprenticeship programmes within the area. She’s passionate about raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships and believes they are an ideal way to gain the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours in the workplace.

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Linzi Monks


Preston College has recruited many apprentices within their Business Support team over the years.  This has been a beneficial experience for them as a business and for the individuals.  Preston College is proud to boast that a number of their Team leaders, Assistant Team leaders and middle managers first started out as apprentices  and have risen through the ranks. By taking on new talent year on year they are able to keep their business practices current and train home-grown talent.  This supports a fabulous culture of opportunity and keeps all staff engaged and motivated, for those apprentices that have moved on Preston College has been pleased to be part of their journey and all have progressed to the next steps of their career.

The apprenticeship programme is a really good way to either bring new talent into your business or develop existing staff to reach their full potential in your business.  Either way you are guaranteed to increase productivity and quality.


Charlotte Knowles


Elektec are passionate about taking on apprentices of all ages, upskilling and making a difference within Lancashire.

They have recruited 5 apprentices within the last year and feel Apprentices bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the workplace.  Charlotte feels it is a pleasure to see them blossom, grow and gain new skills. In Elektec the competition is high so candidates should offer to complete work experience for free to prove yourself and capabilities,  take photos of your work and achievements, build a portfolio of experience and skills. Read up about the company before you apply or attend any interviews.  Follow them on social media to get an insight into their ethos and work.


Alice Bennett


Apprentices enrich any organisation. Their focus on learning at work is inspirational. When a person, whatever age they are, takes on the commitment of an apprenticeship, it almost guarantees a two- or three-year commitment to your organisation which can never be guaranteed in any other employee. Alongside that commitment is the current knowledge that they bring as a result of their up-to-date learning, especially on crucial legislation such as GDPR and health and safety. 


Apprentices are committed to their development and it is a joy to engage with them on organisational matters as they will be seeking opportunities to be seen, heard, trained and retained. The investment in each apprentice often results in loyalty to the organisation. It is a myth that they need a lot of supervision; the training provider is an invaluable source of support to ensure that their competence levels constantly improve.


Becky Toal

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Since 2010 we have recruited several apprenticeship in Business Admin, Project Management and most recently Team Leading. The skills brought into the business have helped us to grow, increase our turnover and remain profitability. We have signed the Lancashire Skills Pledge and are committed to providing quality apprenticeships, paid internships and training to all of our staff. It is a very positive step to ensure good succession management, to demonstrate that you take up-skilling your staff seriously. It will also make you an employer of choice – somewhere that people actually do want to work and are proud to work with you on your team.

We won 2017 the top 100 Apprentice Employer of the year, which was great and a real positive boost to our social media and brand awareness.


Lorraine Nicholls


Apprentices allow the schools to train an employee to completely meet the needs of the business, the staff members are also our potential leaders and bring new and fresh ideas to the school. Many of our schools deal with SEMH children, therefore resilience and empathy play a huge part in maintaining a relationship and supporting the children to achieve in an educational area. An apprentice not only allows an organisation to bring new people to the job but supports your existing teams in terms of up-skilling them to manage teams, deliver training and staff planning.


James Beardwood


As a member of the Learning Development Team at Lancashire County Council James works with Lancashire's services and schools in utilising the procurement of apprenticeship training from training providers, colleges and universities across the region.  Lancashire County Council now have over 891 apprentices including those that have completed their apprenticeships that we have helped since April 2017.


Apprenticeships allow you to enjoy the opportunity to be able to learn on the job with time served experience, it's an invaluable opportunity to build experience from grassroots. James wouldn't hesitate  to recommend the apprenticeship route as it’s a great opportunity to shape and mould skills for the workforce of tomorrow with real world experience plus the opportunity to boost the local economy.

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Jo Anderton


Lancashire County Council has a dedicated apprenticeship team that work with a large number of training providers to ensure a varied choice of apprenticeships on offer. This has enabled staff to move away from the more traditional based classroom learning to a more flexible 'earn as you learn' approach.    


Apprenticeships have had a positive impact at Lancashire County Council, as a result of apprenticeships being offered the authority has been able to forward plan workforce shortages. An example of this is upskilling current staff such as Family Support Workers to qualified Social Workers.

Jo believes that businesses need to be shown the potential of recruiting apprentices to dispel any myths or false representations of an apprentice. Apprentices do not have to be of school leaver age, in fact there is no age limit! Apprentices are able to bring skills that are specifically needed for your business.

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Phil Durnell


Lancashire County Council have had great success with highway apprentices either becoming skilled highway operatives or a number following further education to gain professional qualifications and moving into engineering and management roles. Taking up an apprenticeship is a really good route to learn on the job with experienced skilled staff and also take advantage of day release and evening classes at college. Hands-on training gives you a real chance to put your skills into practice and helps you to gain more confidence in a working environment. You also earn while you learn. 


Apprentices, in whatever field are an investment for the future and essential for all businesses succession planning. As an employer you will benefit by having the opportunity to be part of the learning progress of the apprentices and can also have an influence on the academics studied by working with colleges. Phil believes the combination of attending college at the same time gaining experience in the work place give apprentices fantastic experience in the working environment and gives employers the chance to see the commitment of individuals and their work ethics.

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Neil Horner


Neil's career and life has benefited from being an apprentice. He havs recruited apprentices, worked with and coached apprentices within construction and project engineering contexts enabling them to grow through technical challenge, engaging with peers, leading initiatives and contextualising learning to industry & business objectives.

Neil  continues to maintain close contact and respect for peers who have developed their business skills through apprenticeships progressing to realise business and industry success through maintaining their personal commitment to proving and applying themselves to every challenge.