Our next summit will focus on skills, growth and opportunity, providing international perspectives on key economic and social challenges. We’ll have an exceptional line-up of experts – as well as education and industry partners – who will be sharing their knowledge to deliver an innovative conference like no other.

Location: McIntyre House, 2 Holland Street, Birmingham B3 1PW
Date: Thursday 23 May 2024
Event time: 09.00 – 16.00 

Why attend?

  • Exchange insights on the role of world-class skills in stimulating innovation and growth, supporting social mobility and unlocking opportunity
  • Network with other senior leaders from education, industry and government 
  • Learn from international best practice within WorldSkills UK’s global network 
  • Participate in solutions-focused workshops 
  • Engage in CPD with the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence in partnership with NCFE 
  • Enjoy a tour of University College Birmingham’s state-of-the-art facilities

Confirmed speakers:

  • Ben Blackledge, Chief Executive WorldSkills UK
  • Chelle Travis, Executive Director, SkillsUSA
  • Anthony Impey MBE, Chief Executive, Be the Business
  • Rosa Wells, FE Principal and Dean of STEM, University College Birmingham
  • Jeff Greenidge, Director of Diversity & Governance, Association of Colleges
  • Dr Mandy Crawford-Lee, Chief Executive, UVAC
  • Dr Fiona Aldridge, Head of Insight & Intelligence, West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Philip Le Feuvre, Chief Operating Officer, NCFE

Meet the speakers:

Ben Blackledge

CEO, WorldSkills UK

Ben brings a wealth of experience to his role, having worked in senior policy positions in government before joining WorldSkills UK in 2014 and becoming Deputy Chief Executive in 2019.

He combines a deep understanding of the UK and International skills landscape and its importance to UK competitiveness with a commitment to ensuring that young people have access to the best possible opportunities to develop their skills and reach their full potential.

An independent member of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s (IFATE’s) Assessment Panel. He also sits on the WorldSkills International Competition Working Group and is part of the Board of WorldSkills Europe, ensuring the UK is at the forefront of global developments in skills training.

Chelle Travis

Executive Director of SkillsUSA

Chelle Travis is the executive director of SkillsUSA, a national organization of nearly 400,000 teachers and students operating within the framework of career and technical education (CTE). Travis was appointed in 2019 and leads a staff of 35 that manages a federation of 52 state and territorial SkillsUSA associations, one of which (Tennessee) Travis formerly led as its director. The work she’s accomplished in two decades of advancing the cause of career and technical education makes Travis a perfect fit to help  SkillsUSA, America’s proud champion of the skilled trades, continue to achieve its mission: to empower students to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members.

Travis’ professional experience is rooted in a wide variety of academic settings, from secondary institutions to universities to technical and community colleges. Prior to becoming executive director of SkillsUSA, she served as the senior director of workforce and economic development at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), where she built valuable partnerships with employers, workforce agencies and postsecondary institutions. Prior to her work at THEC, Travis served as associate vice chancellor for students for the Tennessee Board of Regents College System. There, she provided leadership in promoting student initiatives across 40 technical and community colleges.

Travis has collaborated with every category of CTE stakeholder to design curricula, develop programs, draft legislation and more. The ultimate goal of these and current efforts is the same: to help students realize their full personal and professional potential while elevating the value of CTE to the forefront of educational discourse.

Travis holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance, and a master’s degree in business administration, from Middle Tennessee State University. She is a doctoral student at Tennessee State University.

Dr Mandy Crawford-Lee

Chief Executive, UVAC

Dr Mandy Crawford-Lee has considerable experience of leading and negotiating skills policy, strategic planning and performance management in economic development, vocational education and training reform. She is a sound and respected resource for those involved in the development and delivery of apprenticeships at the higher level having led national policy, managed the Coalition Government’s successful Higher Apprenticeship Fund and revised the Specification of Apprenticeship Standard in England (SASE) leading to the opening up of pathways in higher level learning for apprentices beyond Level 3 and into a work-based route through to professional, senior technical and managerial occupations and, where appropriate, professional accreditation.

Having worked extensively with government departments, providers in further education, higher education institutions, awarding organisations, professional bodies and public and private sector employers, Mandy has developed effective business and commercial partnerships. Mandy specialises in research, leadership of strategic projects and in skills policy advice, development & implementation including advocacy and lobbying. Higher and degree apprenticeships and higher technical, professional education and skills are Mandy’s sphere of influence. A doctoral graduate from Middlesex University, UK, her professional field of interest is discursive shifts in apprenticeship reform in England and higher technical skills policy, recognising and reflecting the role of universities in delivery.

Having worked with the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) since 2012, both inside and outside of Government, Mandy became its director of policy and operations in 2017 and, in October 2021, its first female chief executive. UVAC on behalf of its 90+ university members, has been championing Degree Apprenticeships since their introduction, and the value of higher technical and professional education for over twenty years and is regarded as the most authoritative voice on all strategic and operational aspects of higher and degree apprenticeships in England.

Anthony Impey MBE

Anthony is Chief Executive of Be the Business – the UK’s leading expert on small business productivity which, as an independent charity, has already added £500m to the productivity of the firms it has worked with.

As a serial entrepreneur, he has spent his career starting and scaling several businesses (the first being while he was still at school), as well as a number of social enterprises.

He also works with UK Government as chair of the Department of Education’s Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and is a member of the Department for Business & Trade’s Expert Advisory Council. He chairs the City & Guilds Industry Skills Board and University College London’s International Advisory Board and is a Fellow at the Royal Docks School of Business at the University of East London.

He was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours for services to Small Business.

Dr Fiona Aldridge

Dr Fiona Aldridge is Head of Insight and Intelligence in the Employment, Skills, Health and Communities directorate at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Fiona is helping to shape devolved employment and skills policy in the West Midlands region, which includes influencing the way in which the WMCA commissions its £165million Adult Education Budget.

Fiona joined the WMCA from the Learning and Work Institute where she was director for policy and research. In this role, Fiona was responsible for leveraging the organisation as a credible and influential voice on learning, skills and employment.

Dr. Archana Patankar

Dr. Archana Patankar is a Researcher and Practitioner with substantial National and International experience in the field of Climate Change, Health and Environment. She is the Vice President – NSDC Research and Impact at the National Skill Development Corporation India and looks after research, CSR, impact financing and outcome-driven livelihood intervention projects. Archana brings over a rich experience of conceptualizing, operationalizing and leading policy and practice-oriented assignments across different verticals such as climate change vulnerability and adaptation, rural livelihoods, public health, applied environmental economics and economics of energy sector. She holds PhD in Economics from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) and LLM in Environmental and Energy Law from Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham.

Thanks to our supporters

We are pleased to have the support of University College Birmingham and West Midlands Combined Authority in holding this event in the West Midlands.

University College Birmingham

About University College Birmingham 

University College Birmingham’s mission is to ensure its students can follow their passion, while learning the industry skills employers want from graduates that meet today’s skills agenda.

Enterprise and practical experience are a key focus across the University’s degree courses, covering the areas of health and nursing, education, sport and physiotherapy, business and tourism, computing and cyber security, engineering and sustainable construction, food, and creative services.

In the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the University works with over 1,000 employers locally, nationally, and globally to ensure students have diverse industry experiences and complete their studies as a confident, career-ready graduate with specialist knowledge.

This focus is bolstered by the fact many of the degrees are awarded by the University of Warwick, ranked 9th in the UK by The Guardian League Table 2024. This is a developing partnership between two universities that aims to open progression pathways, with far-reaching benefits for learners.

Fully inclusive, the University has a diverse student population, 56% of whom come from within 30 miles of Birmingham. Through key partnerships, University College Birmingham is committed to widening access to university education, regardless of background.

Student support is paramount, and the University not only won Silver for University of the Year at the WhatUni Student Choice Awards 2023, but also the top award for International student support, as voted for by students themselves.

The University has invested over £180 million into its facilities over the past decade, including cutting-edge sports facilities, and opened a Centre for Sustainable Construction in the 2023 academic year.

West Midlands Combined Authority

Our world-class CPD workshops at this event are supported by NCFE.


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