15 March 2022

‘End of an era’ as Martin Dunford OBE steps down as AELP Chair after 18 years

Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive of Skills Training UK, has been applauded for his ‘relentless commitment’ to the skills and apprenticeships sector as he steps down as Chair of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) after 18 years.

Martin was a founding member of AELP in 2002 when he got together with a small number of other training providers to create the organisation which would grow to become a force for the sector, building Government Ministers’ understanding of the high-quality offering of independent training providers, representing its members interests and influencing Government policy. He has been AELP’s chair since 2004, steering its development in size and influence from a handful of members at its inception to over 800 members today.

AELP is now recognised by government ministers as the voice of its independent training provider members, who include Skills Training UK. It also represents the interests of learners and employers to make a real impact through skills. Its members support thousands of businesses and millions of learners in England by delivering a wide range of apprenticeships, other vocational learning and employability programmes.

Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of AELP, says: “I would like to thank Martin for his relentless commitment to AELP. A founding member of AELP nearly two decades ago, Martin had a vision to create a membership organisation which would support and represent ITPs with government to ensure that they had a voice and position in the FE Sector. During his time as Chair, he has supported four Chief Executives and led the board with a pure ambition which has resulted in not only AELP being the ‘go to’ organisation for ITPs but also for government ministers.”

Martin Dunford OBE says: “I have been proud to chair the board for the last 18 years, having been involved in the organisation since its inception. Over those years, I have watched AELP grow significantly. We have moved mountains in that time. When we started out, we never imagined that we would see a day when we would have a ministerial position dedicated to skills and apprenticeships. We have never lost sight of our core values: to support learners, providers, and employers and to make a real impact through skills.”

As Chief Executive of Skills Training UK, Martin works with the board to set and deliver the strategic and operational objectives. He has steered the company’s year on year growth of market share to become one of the country’s leading Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Study Programme providers.  Previously he was Chief Executive of the Training and Business Group (TBG) which grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Martin began his career in international sales, marketing, product and business development in high-end biotechnology, during which time he qualified for an MBA.

He has served as an expert advisor on a number of government advisory panels and boards around Further Education and skills policy, including board membership of the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA), Chair of the Finance Committee of the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) and a member of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network for ten years. Martin was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year Honours list for services to skills training. Martin has been succeeded as Chair of AELP’s board by Nichola Hay MBE, Chief Operating Officer of Estio Training and previous board Vice Chair.

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