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As half of the FE Week team beavered away in a London hotel room to produce this publication, the other half was four floors below witnessing the Association of Employer and Learning Providers launch its manifesto for the coming year.

It was a key moment in the opening of day one of the association’s national conference 2013.

This supplement offers an insight into the hot topics from the first day of the association’s annual conference, while examining the association’s key priorities laid out in the manifesto’s ten key points, on the page opposite.

On pages 4 and 5 we report on association’s opening speeches, with traineeships top, or thereabouts, of this year’s agenda.

We also take this opportunity to wish outgoing association chief executive Graham Hoyle a fond farewell after 11 years at the helm.

But how will his successor Stewart Segal take the association forward? And what will be his priorities? All answers are revealed on pages 6 and 7.

On page 10 Mr Hoyle shares some final thoughts on the possible risks in reforming apprenticeship funding in line with the suggestions of entrepreneur Doug Richard.

And on page 11 we learn the inside track on vocational training from an employer who’s taken on apprentices, Karen Walker, of Greggs bakers, before apprentice

James Davies, from training provider HIT, explains the situation from his point of view.

Association chair Martin Dunford takes a deeper look into the association’s new manifesto on page 12 while Skills Minister Matthew Hancock offers some insight into how technology can “transform” work- based training.

Our final expert is Michael Davis, from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), who champions former Dragon’s Den investor Mr Richard’s ideas for using the tax system to fund apprenticeships.

FE Week deputy editor Chris Henwood spoke to delegates to find out what they wanted the association to look at over the coming year. He also asked what they made of Mr Segal’s speech, among other probing questions. Find their answers on this supplement’s final pages.

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