Martin Dunford has stepped down as the chair of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ board after 18 years, with the organisation calling his departure the “end of an era”.
He will be replaced by Nichola Hay who is chief operating officer of Estio Training and who also serves as chair of AELP London.
Dunford was a founding member of AELP, and under his leadership the organisation has grown to the point where it has around 800 members.
Alex Khan, chief executive of Lifetime Training, was also elected as the new vice chair of AELP’s board.
The announcement came as AELP published a new report that explores how independent training providers can “deliver the workforce of the future”, which was launched at an event in parliament yesterday.
“I have been proud to chair the board for the last 18 years, having been involved in the organisation since its inception,” said Dunford.
“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 ministerial position dedicated to skills and apprenticeships.”
Dunford said that over the years AELP has never lost sight of their core values which are to support learners, providers, and employers and to make a “real impact through skills”.
“As I step down and hand over the reins to a new chair, I am pleased to see that, despite challenges, AELP’s future is brighter than ever. I have every confidence that the leadership team and board is ready to tackle the challenges our sector faces,” he added.
Dunford began his career in international sales, marketing, product, and business development, during which time he qualified for an MBA.
Prior to becoming chief executive of Skills Training UK, he was chief executive of the Training and Business Group (TBG).
He has served as an expert advisor on a number of government advisory panels and boards around further education and skills policy, including ten years on the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network.
Jane Hickie, AELP’s chief executive, thanked Dunford 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,” she said.
“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.”
During an event at parliament held on Tuesday morning, AELP announced the publication of new research into how independent training providers can support the development of the UK’s workforce.
The research calls for equitable treatment of ITPs in policy, regulation and funding and for the government to move away from “institution-led bias”.
It sets out seven recommendations that call for the system to “allow ITPs to do more of what they do best”.
“The fact is that ITPs have always been overlooked. But it’s also important that we don’t see this as one long whinge. That we don’t talk about it as a report about how hard done by ITPs are,” Paul Warner, the author of the report, told FE Week.
“All that we are asking for is that ITPs have a certain set of skills, strengths and expertise and that needs to be recognised and used,” he added.
You can read FE Week’s full interview with Dunford in this week’s edition, out Friday.