The fourth International Skills Summit, Skills for the future, was hosted by WorldSkills UK and supported by BESA- taking place on 25 May 2023 at Newcastle College.

The event welcomed global experts on skills and the economy to provide insights on how technical education and apprenticeships can underpin success in future focused sectors and industries. The summit was also an opportunity to explore how world-class skills can support regional resilient growth as well as international competitiveness – and unlock opportunities for people of all backgrounds to gain high-value jobs.

Video highlights:

Ministerial speech:

Keynote speech from Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education


Jeff Brown

Jeff is the presented of BBC Look North from Tyne Tees Television in 2003.

Formerly a newspaper journalist, he studied at Monkwearmouth Grammar School in Sunderland and York University before joining the Birmingham Post & Mail as a trainee reporter.

Jeff returned to the North East of England to work at The Journal for ten years as a sports reporter before moving into television.

Jennifer Coupland

Jennifer Coupland took up post as Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in November 2019. Her previous role was Director of Professional and Technical Education in DfE for three years, where she was responsible for T Level development and delivery, the L3 and below qualifications review and the Higher Technical Reforms.

Prior to that, Jennifer was Acting Chief Executive of the Standards and Testing Agency, where she oversaw the Agency’s work on primary school assessment policy and operational delivery. Before that, she spent three years as the Deputy Director of the joint DfE/BIS Apprenticeships Unit.

Previously Jennifer was the Deputy Director in the Department for Education responsible for the early stages of Traineeships development as well as Raising the Participation Age, careers and NEET policy.

Jennifer began her career in the Employment Service where she ran a benefit section in a local office and delivered a range of programmes to support long term unemployed people into work. Since moving to central Government Jennifer has worked on a number of policy areas including: benefits, schools and post-16 education.

Scott Bullock

Scott joined Newcastle College in August 2016 as Vice Principal Curriculum and Quality and has progressed during his time at NCG into roles as Deputy Principal and then into his current position as Principal of Newcastle College.

Scott has over 20 years of experience in FE and Skills specialising in quality improvement, teaching and learning and curriculum operations, as well as leading professional services functions of Curriculum Information Services and Exams. This includes a role at New College Durham, with a senior leadership remit for Quality and Performance Management, immediately prior to joining Newcastle College.

He also has previous experience as an Ofsted Inspector and as an EFQM Excellence Assessor, and is currently a DfE T Level Ambassador, alongside representing NCG on AoC’s National Policy Group for Quality and Accountability.

Scott is passionate about creating a brilliant student experience and supporting students to develop their skills and talents and make a positive contribution to the North East and beyond.

El Iza Mohamedou

El Iza Mohamedou is the Head of the OECD Centre for Skills which supports countries to achieve better economic and social outcomes by taking a whole-of-government approach and engaging with stakeholders to develop & implement better skills policies. She has more than 20 years of international experience working in the field and at headquarters with the World Bank, UNICEF, African Development Bank, GIZ and in the private sector. Her expertise spans multidisciplinary projects, institutional strengthening, program evaluation, gender and low-and middle- income countries. El Iza holds a PhD in Economics, MBA in International Business and a BA in Economics.

Ben Blackledge

Ben is responsible for driving WorldSkills UK’s programme of work both in the UK and internationally. In partnership with representatives from government, industry, and education, he leads the UK-wide initiative to embed skills competitions methodology into apprenticeship and training programmes, raising standards and ensuring more young people from all walks of life are being equipped with the right skills to help businesses better compete globally.

Ben ensures that the UK remains at the forefront of international skills development in his role of Technical Delegate at WorldSkills Europe and WorldSkills International.

Leading both nationally and internationally, Ben seeks to establish WorldSkills UK as a forward-thinking organisation that is striving to bring about improvements across the skills and education system in the UK.

Dr Jacqueline Hall

Dr Jacqueline Hall is Head of Apprenticeships and Skills at BAE Systems Plc, who place apprenticeships at the heart of a dynamic defence and digital business. BAE Systems currently supports more than 3000 apprenticeships across Air, Maritime, Land and Digital sectors across 60 different standards. Our apprenticeship recruitment has increased 500% in the last five years with achievement rates at c95%, supporting an Ofsted Outstanding grade. We have recruited 1073 apprentices in September 2022, of which 30% were women and continue to raise aspirations through our diversity targets. We are currently recruiting circa 1400 for starts in September 2023 to meet demand within the business.

Jacqueline has more than 30 years national and international experience within the education and skills landscape in particular for apprenticeships, creating employer led standards across industries critical to national infrastructure and leading the creation of an end-point assessment organisation. She has extensive international experience, having set up a successful education business for a UK plc, focussed around school inspection and educational software.

She has previously worked as an associate inspector for Ofsted and led a team building and maintaining qualifications across the devolved nations, including T levels for the engineering sector. She also set up an end-point assessment organisation for apprenticeships, which in 2016 enjoyed the first achievements across all sectors in England.

Paul Joyce

Paul Joyce is one of His Majesty’s Inspectors and is the Deputy Director for Further Education & Skills. Paul joined Ofsted in 2005 as HMI having previously worked within the Further Education and Skills sector in both general and specialist further education colleges.

Immediately before working for Ofsted, Paul was a consultant for the former Department for Education and Skills and worked on national initiatives supporting improvements to teaching and learning and in leadership and management.

Paul has significant inspection experience in both the schools and further education & skills remits and prior to being appointed Deputy Director was a Senior HMI with responsibility for the college inspection programme nationally.

Kim Smith

Responsible for supporting the coherent planning and implementation of technical education, Kim works across education and business, leading a number of strategic post 16 and technical education and skills regional groups. Kim is a member of the region’s Institute for Technology’s Operational Board and represents the National LEP Network on DfE’s Employer Support Advisory group for T-levels, Career and Enterprise Company’s FE & Skills Group and UCAS Apprenticeship Stakeholder Engagement Policy Group. Kim has been directly involved in career and technical education research, having been commissioned by the Gatsby Foundation to review and share good practice from T-level local areas programme, and co-authored research on connections between on post 16 student intended destination and local labour market opportunities with Newcastle University.

Prior to joining the LEP Kim was Regional Director for National Citizen Service and in 2010 retrained as a teacher working at Gateshead College and as Lecturer at University of Sunderland. Prior to this career change Kim was Regional Head of 14-19 Education and Youth Policy at DfE and has been responsible for skills and employability at both Regional Development Agency and Learning and Skills Council.

Karen Lockney

Karen is a project officer for TUC Northern and currently oversees a learning and skills project in partnership with the North of Tyne Combined Authority. She has a background in education, having worked in secondary schools and universities. She is the author of two books on secondary education, and has also recently been a county councillor.

Professor Dipiloane Phutsisi

Professor Dipiloane Phutsisi is born and bred in the Free State Province, at a place called Bothaville.

She is currently the Principal of Motheo TVET College and the President of the South African Public Colleges Organisation (SAPCO).

Under her leadership Motheo TVET College won the following national and international Awards:

  • Professional Marketing Research (PMR) Africa Golden Arrow Awards in 2014 for excellence and quality service to its clientele
  • PMR Diamond Award: The highest award focusing on the most trusted institution, best customer service and satisfaction as well as the best educational institution among Training institutions from 2015 to 2022.
  • Excellence in education by European Business Academy in Lucerne in Switzerland on  2017
  • Best TVET College in Disability Support in 2018 by the DHET
  • Top Empowered Organisation in Education and Training in Johannesburg during 18th Annual Top Empowerment Awards in 2019.
  • Diamond Prize for Excellence in Quality in Austria in 2019.
  • European Award for Best Practices in Belgium in 2018.
  • Majestic Falcon Award for Quality and Excellence in Dubai in 2017
  • Best Enterprise in Barcelona, Spain in 2018.
  • Platinum Technology Award for Quality and Best Trade Name in Berlin, Germany in 2018.
  • The college received a CISCO Award on the 14 March 2023 for Most Impressive Cisco Networking Academy in Johannesburg
  • The college is due for the Premier+ Award by CISCO in France in May 2023

Helen Yeulet

Helen Yeulet is the Director of Training and Skills at Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) Academy, the training arm of BESA. Following a successful career driving business and technology change in industries as diverse as Npower, Ministry of Justice, BSKYB, RBS, NG Bailey, she became responsible for developing a new training strategy for the Finishes and Interiors Sector. 

Helen is also a Non-executive Director for YouthBuild Ventures UK and is focused on identifying the cultural changes the building services sector needs to address competency, the increasing skills gap, whilst preparing and delivering for net zero.

Louise Warde Hunter

Prior to her appointment in April 2020 to lead Belfast Met, Louise was Deputy Secretary, Housing and Urban Regeneration at the Department for Communities, Northern Ireland. A senior civil servant for over 13 years, Louise worked in a range of government departments including Agriculture, Justice, Environment and Education in policy, finance and governance roles, and as senior sponsor for a wide variety of ALBs and NDPBS across the Northern Ireland public sector.

Before joining the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Louise worked as a CEO and senior manager in the voluntary sector across the UK and Ireland in a number of organisations, all focussed on improving how society works and with a particular emphasis on the economic and social policy issues that affect the most vulnerable. Strongly committed to diversity and inclusion, Louise was both the Gender Champion for NICS and Chair of the NICS Women’s Network.

Louise is a graduate of Manchester and Queen’s universities and an alumna of the Federal Executive Leadership Institute in the USA and the Timoney Leadership Institute in Ireland.

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