The summit unveiled WorldSkills UK’s Skills Taskforce for Global Britain report into how the UK can become a global leader in developing skills to attract inward investment. Our high-profile panellists also addressed the role of skills in delivering the levelling up agenda and shared insightful UK and international case studies on the skills economy.

Read the report

Watch the sessions on-demand below:

Session 1 – How skills and inward investment can work for each other

John Cridland, Chair, WorldSkills UK Skills Taskforce for Global Britain

  • Will Tanner, Director, Onward
  • Josie Cluer, Partner, EY

Session 2 – Using skills and inward investment to boost local economies

  • David Hughes, CEO, Association of Colleges
  • Paul Little, CEO & Principal, City of Glasgow College
  • David Gallagher, Chief Executive, NCFE
  • Dr Ann Limb, CBE

Session 3 – Keynote speech with Jamie Hepburn, MSP

Keynote speech – Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher and Further Education, Scottish Government

Interview – Martin McGuire, Scotland Director, WorldSkills UK

Session 4 – ‘Working with employers to deliver high-quality, industry ready skills’

  • Sam Huckle, Welsh Government
  • Neil Bentley-Gockmann, CEO, WorldSkills UK
  • Dr Bill Mitchell, BCS, Chartered Institute of IT
  • Justine Fosh, CEO, Cogent Skills
  • Peter Mucklow

Session 5 – ‘Delivering world-class skills to attract investment’

  • Olivier Gainon, Chief Executive, WorldSkills France
  • Marie-Therese McGivern, Director Invest Northern Ireland
  • Brendan McGinty, Chair, Skillnet Ireland
  • Ben Blackledge, Deputy CEO, WorldSkills UK
  • Nick Watson, UK Head of Consulting, OCO Global

The event was hosted by columnist and broadcaster, Ayesha Hazarika MBE, and our speakers included Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training; John Cridland, Chair of WorldSkills UK’s Skills Taskforce for Global Britain; Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO, WorldSkills UK, David Hughes, CEO of Association of Colleges; Will Tanner, Director of Onward; Josie Cluer, Partner, EY and Marie-Therese McGivern, Director Invest Northern Ireland.

Ayesha Hazarika MBE

This event appealed to FE leaders, national and local government policy-makers, employers, apprenticeship providers, HR Directors and those with an interest in supporting WorldSkills UK’s ambition to drive the quality of technical skills and apprenticeships to secure long-term international investment and drive economic growth across our nations and regions.

Meet the speakers

John Cridland CBE

John Cridland CBE

John has a wealth of experience in high-level policy analysis and delivery across the economy, education, business, and international trade and investment. He is currently Pro Chancellor of Brunel University and Chairman of the Home Group.

John, who was awarded a CBE for services to business in 2006, is passionate about improving skills outcomes for young people and employers. He is a member of the board at OFSTED, and previously served as Vice Chair of the National Learning and Skills Council, and as a UK Commissioner for Employment and Skills.

Marie Therese McGivern

Marie-Therese has extensive experience of both skills development and inward investment. Her current roles include chairing Maritime Belfast and the Employability and Skills Advisory Board for the £10bn Belfast Region City Deal. Marie-Therese also sits on the Strategic Investment Board for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Water.   From 2009 to 2020 Marie-Thérèse was Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College.

Josie Cluer

Josie Cluer, partner at EY

Josie is a former Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills and regularly writes and speaks on skills and education reform. Josie has been involved in various charitable activities to increase access to training, skills and jobs for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Will Tanner

Will Tanner is Onward’s Director, having established the organisation with Neil O’Brien MP, Danny Finkelstein, Martyn Rose and Nick Faith in May 2018. In that time, he has authored a number of influential policy reports, including: The Politics of Belonging (2019); The Policies of Belonging (2021); No Turning Back (2020); The State of our Social Fabric (2020) and State of the Union (2021).
Before Onward, Will advised Prime Minister Theresa May between 2013 and 2017, as a Special Adviser in the Home Office and as Deputy Head of Policy in 10 Downing Street. He has also previously worked for the leading communications firm, Portland Communications, and for the independent thinktank, Reform.
Will writes regularly for national media outlets. In addition to a regular column in the i Newspaper, he has recently written for the Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian and Politico.

Justine Fosh

Justine Fosh moved from her role as Chief Executive of The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink to the role of  CEO of Cogent Skills in May 2020.

Previously she  spent 15 years working in commercial positions in food and drink manufacturing companies including Sara Lee, Grolsch, McCain and Uniq before moving to LearnDirect business. She joined Improve and established their National Skills Academy for Food & Drink as a successful stand alone commercial business.

She is a graduate in Industrial Relations and Marketing from Strathclyde University.

David Hughes

David Hughes became Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges in September 2016. Before that he was Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute and spent over 10 years at the Learning and Skills Council and Skills Funding Agency where he had national responsibility for funding and improvement with colleges and providers.

Prior to that, David worked in the voluntary sector across a wide range of roles and organisations in the UK and Australia, in social housing, co-operatives, welfare, regeneration and community development.

David holds several Board positions including with the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics and the Bell Foundation. He was Vice-Chair of the East Midlands Regional Assembly in the 1990s, founding Chair of the Education and Training Foundation in 2013 and has helped set-up several third sector organisations.

Samantha Huckle

Samantha Huckle

My Career began in 1990 whilst working for the Training and Enterprise Councils in Wales.  Steering provider auditing practice and overseeing self-assessment plans for the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model. From there I moved into the programme management profession working on skills related projects

Over the last 25 years, I have been working within the Welsh Civil Service.  Initially, on European Programmes building consensus around policy and delivery related objectives whilst maintaining links with the EU Commission and other nations via programmes such as Leonardo, Erasmus and Interreg.

From 2005, I was responsible for the development of policies and associated programmes to deliver against Welsh Government’s Ministerial priorities around those Not in Education, Employment or Training, tackling economic inactivity and unemployment.

Between 2010-2018, I was responsible for the Apprenticeship programme in Wales.  I cultivated a culture of innovation, expanding the boundaries of what constitutes an Apprenticeship via the development of high quality integrated learner pathways. I collaborated with schools to develop Junior Apprenticeships (14-16 year olds); I enhanced Further Education Programmes (16-19 year olds); created a Shared Apprenticeship scheme and directed new Degree Apprenticeships offer.    In late 2017, I published Aligning the Apprenticeship model to the needs of the Welsh Economy.” It delivered the Programme for Government target of 100,000 Apprenticeship places; and supported around 35,000 employers across Wales.

Since 2019, I have been operating as “Head Employability Development, Delivery and Operations” this has involved leading major transformational change programmes linked to Employability and Skills activities across Wales.  I manage a diverse range of projects and grant approaches. Gender Equality, Wales Union Learning Fund, Offender Learning, Essential Skills in Wales, Employability and Skills Programmes together with Careers Services within Schools and for adults via our new Working Wales Service.

I am the Welsh lead for Skills Competitions. I developed and now lead the “Team Wales” network of over 100 Welsh external organisations; linked into regional and global competitions and benchmarking activities on skills. I have used my energy and commitment to cultivate awareness around the benefits of skills competitions, forging links and unifying “Team Wales.” Supporting around 1,400 Welsh competitors each year.

Martin McGuire

Martin McGuire is the WorldSkills UK Director for Scotland, working to grow further the impact of its work on young people and the economy.

Martin, who was formerly the Principal and Chief Executive at New College Lanarkshire, has responsibility for working with Skills bodies, the tertiary education sector, the business community and other stakeholders as WorldSkills UK focuses on growing its work in Scotland and harnessing the impact of its international skills development programme to help deliver more world-class outcomes across the Scottish skills system.

Tracy Black

Tracy Black was appointed CBI Scotland Director on 1 January 2018, having first joined the CBI as Deputy Regional Director for Scotland in April 2017. A recognised thought-leader within the Scottish business community, Tracy regularly appears on platforms alongside Scotland’s foremost political and business leaders and has a growing reputation as an essential economic commentator.

Alongside a varied and distinguished career in the financial services sector, where she worked with top tier global financial institutions like Goldman Sachs International and UBS AG, Tracy has experience of working with a range of SMEs and entrepreneurial start-ups, particularly spin-outs from the higher education sector.

Tracy has also provided advisory services to a range of start-ups and financial services companies and is currently co-owner of Carter Vintners Limited, a company producing high quality Australian wines.

In addition to professional roles, Tracy has been actively involved in leadership and mentoring programmes, in particular working with school children, prisoners and ex-offenders. She also sits on the Boards of Skills Development Scotland, The University of Strathclyde Enterprise & Investment Committee and Chairs the ScotRail Alliance Stakeholder Panel.

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE

Neil joined WorldSkills UK as CEO in 2015 and under his tenure, the organisation has grown and developed to focus on how international benchmarking from the global WorldSkills network in over 80 countries can be harnessed to drive up standards in skills development across the UK.

Neil was previously Deputy Director-General and Chief Operating Officer at the CBI, the UK’s premier business organisation, where he worked for 12 years at the highest level of the business and government interface nationally and internationally on issues such as trade and investment, diversity, skills and employment, public services reform, climate change and infrastructure development.

Neil is a trustee of the Whitehall and Industry Group, a member of the advisory council for the IPA employment think tank and the independent member of the Social Inclusion Committee at Warwick University. He was also the former CEO of OUTstanding, a business network for LGBT leaders and their allies, and former deputy chair of Stonewall, the LGBT equality charity. He holds a PhD in race equality in the workplace and was awarded an OBE for services to diversity and inclusion in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List. In 2019, Neil was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Middlesex University for services to STEM education.

Ben Blackledge

Ben joined WorldSkills UK in April 2014, initially to lead the content of the annual Skills Show (now WorldSkills UK LIVE) and the organisation’s many local programmes. Prior to this he held a number of senior and delivery roles within government, working extensively across both skills and careers policy. Ben is an independent member of Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s quality assurance committee and sits on the WorldSkills International Competition Working Group.

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 and is our executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion.

Jamie Hepburn MSP

Jamie Hepburn was appointed Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training in May 2021.

Jamie was educated at Hyndland Secondary and the University of Glasgow, graduating with a degree in Politics and History.

He served as National Convener of the SNP’s student and youth wings, was MSP for Central Scotland between 2007 and 2011 and has been MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth since 2011. He was appointed Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health in November 2014.

He was previously the Minister for Employability and Training and the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills.

Brendan McGinty

Brendan is a leading expert in people strategy, employee relations, employment policy, change management and dispute resolution with over 30 years experience. He is Managing Partner of Stratis Consulting, a specialist consultancy supporting organisations on strategic employment relations. At Stratis, Brendan and his colleagues provide partner led support to organisations who want to lead improvements in critical areas of Employee Relations, People Strategy and Workplace Policy.

He is Chairperson of the Board of Skillnet Ireland, Ireland’s national business support agency dedicated to enterprise-led workforce development through increased participation in enterprise training and workforce learning. Brendan is passionate about workforce development issues and helping organisations and workers invest in skill development and to prepare for the ‘future of work’ issues ahead.

He engages with trade unions, government, state agencies, with other stakeholders and has an excellent appreciation of National and European employment policy.

He has a deep understanding of workplace relations, employment policy and the application of employment law in a modern economy having been involved in most national reform initiatives and has recently been appointed to the Board of the Workplace Relations Commission, in Ireland.

Brendan previously worked with the business organisation Ibec, as a member of the leadership team where he had a successful career as Director of Industrial Relations and Human Resource Services.

He is also an Independent Director and member of the Governing Body of the National College of Ireland.

Dr Paul GK Little

Paul GK Little, is founding Principal and CEO of City of Glasgow College.

A Harvard Business School graduate and distinguished academic, he brings a wealth of experience in tertiary sector transformation, curriculum innovation, change management, and performance excellence.

Recognised with five Fellowships, including the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he is the current President of the Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, and most recently was appointed to the senior rank of Honorary Captain in the Royal Navy Reserve. An Ambassador for WorldSkills in Scotland he has overseen the creation of a World Skills Academy and the college’s consistent ranking in the top two in the UK.

He is co-author of the Scottish Government commissioned Cumberford-Little report which highlights the strength, potential and economic impact of Scotland’s college sector. Believing education to be the great enabler, Principal Little introduced the college purpose, Let Learning Flourish, to reinforce that students be placed at the heart of everything the college does.

Dr Ann Limb CBE

Photo of Ann Limb

Ann is the independent business Chair of the UK Innovation Corridor one of the country’s leading regions for science and technology stretching from London to Cambridge and has a long track record of senior roles in the further education sector, including Principal roles at Milton Keynes and Cambridge colleges. Ann remains heavily involved in technical education delivery now as incoming Chair of the City & Guilds Group. Up until 2019, she was chair of the country’s top performing Local Enterprise Partnership – the South East Midlands LEP and has continued as an Ambassador for the national LEP network.

In the 2011 Birthday Honours, Ann was awarded the OBE for work in education and in 2015 ‘upgraded’ to CBE for public and political services.

Dr Bill Mitchell, OBE

Bill was awarded an OBE for services to Computing and to Artificial Intelligence Education in the 2020 New Year Honours List. He is the Director of Policy at The Chartered Institute for IT. Prior to that he spent over twenty years researching into the mathematical foundations of computer science both in academia and industry. Since joining BCS in 2009, Bill has worked on a range of projects in collaboration with the Department for Education and the Office for AI, both at the national and international level.

Nick Watson

Nick, UK Head of Consulting at OCO Global, is an experienced economic development consultant, with a primary focus on foreign direct investment and international trade. He has worked extensively with economic development organisations and investment promotion agencies around the world, with recent clients including DIT, InvestHK, Jordan Investment Commission,  KölnBusiness and the City of London Corporation. He also works directly with private sector investors and exporters. Outside of OCO, Nick is a non-executive director of two SMEs. He has a first-class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and a Master’s in Public Choice Theory.

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