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The work of the AAN is linked to the strategic objectives of the Apprenticeship Reform Programme - Benefits Realisation Strategy, which are:


  • To create more quality apprenticeships;

  • To meet the skills needs of employers;

  • To create progression for apprentices;

  • To widen participation and social mobility in apprenticeships.

 The Ambassador Network is here not only to promote Apprenticeships but to share best practice, provide support and to mentor businesses that are keen to employ an apprentice or introduce Apprenticeships to their current workforce.




Deepak Sharma, Senior Manager for the Apprenticeships Ambassador Network

I have worked in the education sector for over 14 years having joined the Learning and Skills Council in 2005. Since then, I have worked in various roles within Government in both the provider management function and more recently moving into employer engagement since 2013. I started my role of working with the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network in 2016 and this has been the most enjoyable role in Government for me, supporting employers that are passionate about apprenticeships to promote the programme to other employers and key stakeholders.

National Apprenticeship Service

Matthew Jaffa, Senior External Affairs Manager (London)

I am the Senior External Affairs Manager within the London Regional Team within the FSB, Currently, I lead on internal and external engagement for London and head up London policy issues affecting small businesses, including economic policy, skills and apprenticeships.  I have also worked in the national policy team working on education and skills, and transport policy. I am Chief Spokesperson on TV and Radio promoting the interests of our 8,000+ FSB members in the Greater London region.

Prior to working at the FSB, I worked in the Cabinet Office in the Better Regulation Executive looking at European Regulatory Impact Assessment and the Strategy Unit, where I was a researcher on various strategic projects.

Jill Nicholls, Senior Relationship Manager

Jill joined the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) in 2017 as a Senior Relationship Manager with responsibility for the Construction, Health and Science routes. She has played a key part in supporting the Faster & Better initiative, which has seen the development time of apprenticeship standards reduce to a matter of months and first time pass rates soar.


She is a member of the Apprenticeship Ambassadors network and Apprenticeship Delivery Board and speaks at events around the country raising awareness of the IfATE; whilst also providing support to employers, HEIs and the FE sector.


A qualified Engineer, Prince 2 Practitioner and Quality Management leader, Jill has experience in both private and public sector and was keen to bring this experience to the IfATE, in order to support Trailblazers and the organisation to develop the best possible programmes.

Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Mark Hilton, Executive Director of Employment and Skills

Mark is Executive Director, Employment and Skills at London First, a membership group which campaigns to make London the best city in the world to do business.  London First has supported apprenticeships for many years, both in promoting the benefits of them to its 230 corporate business members, and using apprenticeships across the organisation, from events to finance and business development.  London First runs the largest careers event in the UK, Skills London, which each year offers 55,000 job and apprenticeship opportunities to young Londoners.


Mark drives the organisation’s work on skills, immigration, employment and education, and account manages London First education members.  He leads London First’s priority Brexit work, which aims to ensure London business has access to the talent its needs to succeed. He does this by working with and lobbying regional and Central Government to influence immigration and skills policy, the latter through the high profile London Employment & Skills Commission, chaired by John Allan, Chairman of Tesco.  Mark has cultivated an extensive network across business, education, policy think tanks and Government, and sits on the Mayor’s Apprenticeship Advisory Group.

London First

Anna Ambrose, Director

Anna is Director of the London Progression Collaboration (LPC) - an initiative aiming to help over 1,000 Londoners to progress into better-quality, higher-paying jobs by supporting employers to increase investment in high-quality apprenticeships. The LPC - working with London businesses in the hospitality, retail and construction sectors - is an innovative pilot delivered by the IPPR think tank and the Greater London Authority. Anna has written for FE Week on the values and aims at the heart of the London Progression Collaboration's mission – read more here.


Prior to joining IPPR in June 2019, Anna worked for education charity Ambition Institute, supporting schools and multi-academy trusts in the most challenging contexts to develop their workforce through a range of government-funded and traded programmes. Most recently, she led the operational delivery of Ambition's sales and account management function, as well as Ambition's staff equality, diversity and inclusion work.

Alongside professional interests in education and skills, Anna is a primary school governor and volunteers as a regional leader for grassroots education organisation WomenEd.

London Progression Collaboration

Anne Mirkovic, Senior Account Manager

In her current role as a Senior Account Manager, Anne advises clients on a range of issues affecting education and skills at a local, regional and national level as well as advocating on their behalf to achieve policy change.

Anne leads the Secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, campaigning with key policy-makers and industry leaders across London and throughout the UK to ensure apprenticeships are championed and continuously improved.


Prior to joining Connect, Anne worked as a long-standing aide to Rt. Hon. Dame Margaret Hodge MP, former Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education where she developed a strong expertise in UK politics and successfully campaigned to achieve policy and legislative change both within London and nationally.


NUS Apprentice Extra

Bev McLaren, Channel Lead

Bev is the person to go to for all things Apprentice Extra Card. She spends her time supporting employers and training providers in making sure that the apprentices they work with have access to the Apprentice Extra Card.

Bev also spends a lot of time working to improve the offer of the card and therefore trying to improve the experience of thousands of apprentices across the UK. She is currently working on trying to improve the public transport offer to apprentices.

Amazing Apprenticeships

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

London LEP

Greater London Authority



Nichola Hay, Chair

Nichola Hay is an expert in post 16 education in the public and private sector and has over 20 years training experience. Nichola is one of the founding directors of Outsource Training and Development which was acquired by Seetec Group in 2016, Nichola stayed with the business to support the integration into Seetec Skills.  Nichola then went on to join the Executive Board of Estio Training, a Digital and IT specialist training provider.   In addition to her work with Estio she is a Board director of the Association of Employment Learning Providers (AELP), AELP London Chair and is on the Skills for Londoners Board.  Nichola sits on the Aviation Industry Skills Board (AISB) and is a member of British Airways Apprenticeship governance team.  Nichola takes an active role in 14-19 strategic groups, policy groups and committees.

Nichola works with Estio's impressive list of key account customers, corporates and SME organisations, helping them to identify apprenticeship opportunities across their businesses and working with them to ensure that all programmes delivered are carefully aligned to their business objectives and of high quality. Nichola passionately believes in the power of apprenticeships and is constantly devising exciting and innovative ways to help businesses embed programmes into their organisations to address their workforce planning and people strategy. As a result, she has been involved in the development of many new standards and has a focus in driving quality in the sector.

Ixion Holdings

Martin Johnson, Head of Service - Learning and Skills National Accounts

Martin started his career as a Marketing Executive at Post Office Headquarters in London, before a love of health and fitness drew him into the Army to follow his dream of becoming an Army Physical Training Instructor which he achieved. Martin served in the Army (and latterly as an instructor with the Ministry of Defence MoD) for 20 years which took him to several locations around the world – some nicer than others! During his final role for the MoD, which was at the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester, Martin gained a passion for education and led to him setting up an accredited fitness qualifications delivery centre within MCTC to educate and support Soldiers who were being discharged from the Forces.


Martin left MCTC to start a new career as a contract operations manager with a company specialising in Apprenticeships for Army Personnel, managing apprenticeship provision to Soldiers across the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Brunei. Martin left this role in 2018 to take up a new challenge with the Ofsted Grade 1 training provider Ixion Holdings where he holds his current position of Head of Service for Learning and Skills National Accounts where he is responsible for all employer and stakeholder engagement nationally.

Martin is a keen cyclist and triathlete and loves all things relating to the Tour de France.

Megann McKinnon, Regional Business Manager and Peer Coach for City & Guilds, Ilm & Digitalme part of City & Guilds Group

City & Guilds Group work with education providers, employers and governments in over 100 countries across the world to help people, businesses and economies grow by shaping skills systems and supporting skills development.


Together, we support more confident and work-ready school leavers, more capable and inspiring managers, more productive workforce, and, ultimately, growing economies. Providing solutions every step of an Apprentices journey through On-programme solutions and End Point Assessment Organisation Services is a core part of making this possible.


Through being a charity City & Guilds Group are also able to change people’s lives through skills, thanks to our various charitable programmes and investments.


As part of the UK Sales Team I am passionate about supporting customers, ensuring they have the products, technology, strategy and services required to achieve their organisational goals, be responsive to policy and reform and provide their learners/ employees with an exceptional experience.


I have worked within the Education sector, for Awarding Organisations for the past 6 years and my passion for the sector has come from the opportunities that education has provided me and my family.


This love for lifelong learning comes from my father, Eric McKinnon who has 18 City & Guilds Qualifications! He started his career as an Apprentice in the 1970’s and never looked back. Fast forward to age 68 and he has just graduated in his ‘Masters of Science in Environmental Management’ with the Open University.


My father’s experience, along with my personal journey which has included 6th Form, University, evening classes at College, distance learning HNDs and on the job training (and I am certainly not stopping there!) has seen me experience how varied and accessible education can be to support lifelong learning.

City & Guilds Group

Mary Vine-Morris, Area Director - London

Mary is the Area Director, London, for the Association of Colleges; a membership organisation promoting, supporting and representing Further Education colleges. Mary works on behalf of London colleges, engaging with key stakeholders to represent the sector and shape the skills agenda for London. Mary believes passionately in the value of learning as a force for improving the quality of life of Londoners; aiding economic prosperity, social integration, community cohesion and health and well-being.


Mary has over 25 years’ experience of the management of Adult Education, Further Education, Work-based Learning and social and economic regeneration. She has worked closely with partners in London’s education and business sector to provide strategic leadership of post-16 learning across the Capital; including previously working for the Learning and Skills Council and London Councils.

Association of Colleges (AoC)

Maggie Halpin, Lead Professional Development Expert

Maggie is a skilled IT project leader with extensive supply-side and client-side project management and leadership experience spanning over fifteen years in various sectors including retail, finance, rail & aviation.  Prior to her IT career, Maggie spent over ten years writing, assessing and delivering national qualification & assessment frameworks for the licensed retail industry, GCSEs and NVQs.


She joined Corndel in August 2019 and her role as Lead Professional Development Expert encompasses the design and delivery of the level 4 Project Management apprenticeship programme that meets the needs of project managers regardless of which sector they operate in, reflecting her own experience of project management as a genuinely transferable skill.  Maggie is passionate about adult and lifelong education and is a keen advocate of the value and benefits of apprenticeships, and the power of professional networks and professional bodies to promote high standards in project delivery for both deliverers and recipients of projects.  Corndel’s approach to personalised training through one-to-one coaching ensures that each indvidual apprentice receives the support and guidance they need to make their apprenticeship the best and most personal it can be for them. 


Paul Evans, Co-CEO

Paul is Co-Chief Executive at Leadership Through Sport and Business, with a professional background in Young Peoples' services, Sport for Development , Mental Health, Homelessness, Education, and Employability Provision. Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB) is a registered UK charity empowering young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfill their potential by preparing and supporting them into professional careers with major firms.


Previously, Paul was CEO at the national education and youth charity, UFA and before that Managing Director at the award winning charity Street League, a leading youth employability charity which changes lives through the power of sport. 

With a strong record in achieving sustainable growth and development, he has been instrumental in securing numerous high value contracts, mergers, partnerships and funding opportunities across numerous service types.


Paul holds a First Class Honours Degree in Business and Management, a Diploma in Psychotherapy and qualified to Level 4 as a Teacher of Further Education. He is currently studying a Post Graduate qualification in Strategic Leadership and Management.

In 2009 Paul was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and proud to hold full membership of the Chartered Management Institute (MCMI).


Outside of work he is trustee of the nottinghamshire learning disability charity REACH and has recently completed 10 years of chair of trustees at award wining sexual abuse and assault charity, ISAS.

Leadership Through Sport and Business

Katherine Bassey

Katherine Bassey, Executive Coach & Facilitator

Katherine is an EMCC accredited executive coach, coaching supervisor and team facilitator.  She has over 30 years of experience in leadership and organisational development in the public and third sectors.  As former Head of Staff Engagement and Innovation for UNISON, she led a wide range of initiatives, including apprenticeship programmes. Katherine continues to work with organisations and individuals who embrace opportunities for cultural change and fresh thinking.  She particularly enjoys working with organisations who are looking to build their internal coaching and mentoring capacity to support apprentices and integrate learning arising from apprenticeship programmes. 


A Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, Katherine also judges for the CIPD’s People Management awards, Engage Awards and volunteers with Engage for Success, chairing forums to share best practice in employee engagement.  


After completing her MA in Human Resource Management at the University of Westminster, Katherine’s work has been strongly influenced by her training and practice in internal and external coaching, coaching supervision, Time to Think facilitation, mindfulness and workplace mediation. She also uses a range of psychometrics designed to promote understanding of difference and to promote team cohesion – supporting compassion, collaboration and creativity at work.






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