Apprenticeship dedication earns Jason Holt a New Year honour as 34 FE and skills figures celebrate awards

The author of a 2012 government-commissioned report aimed at boosting apprentice uptake among businesses is one of four FE and skills figures to have received a CBE in the New Year Honours list.

Jason Holt (pictured), chief executive of jewellery firm Holts Group, wrote Making Apprenticeships More Accessible to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and was honoured in the 2015 awards for services to the jewellery sector and apprenticeships.Barbara-Spicer

His review, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Education (DfE), contained 15 recommendations across three main areas relating to communication and raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships; empowerment and helping SMEs to get the best from their training providers; and, simplification of ownership and responsibility for the apprenticeships programme.

Mr Holt, an apprenticeship ambassador for the government and founder of Holts Academy, said: “This is an extraordinary honour and something I never thought would come my way. I have always felt as a business owner I needed to act — to do something about the skills gap in our sector.

“I’m always willing to help if I know that I can make a valuable contribution, and to be recognised for that in this way is very humbling.”

Michele Sutton

Former Skills Funding Agency interim chief executive Barbara Spicer (pictured above right), who completed her nine-month contract last month and is currently chief executive of Liverpool-based housing agency Plus Dane Group, also got a CBE, for services to education, learning and skills.

Ex-Bradford College principal and Association of Colleges 2013/14 president Michele Sutton OBE (pictured left) and Burton and South Derbyshire College principal Dawn Ward OBE (pictured below right) complete the sector’s CBE recipients with honours for services to FE [see full list of New Year Honours to people related to the FE and skills sector below].

Ms Ward told FE Week: “I feel deeply humbled by this award but recognise that this is a shared honour. It is shared with everyone that I have worked with and for those people over the years whose lives have touched mine.

Burton and South Derbyshire College principal Dawn Ward will chair its data and management information advisory group.

“I’m extremely fortunate to lead an amazing college with highly dedicated, skilled and professional staff. A college full of talented and vibrant students who will help shape and create our future.

“I’m passionate about the impact further education has on so many peoples lives and very proud of the contribution FE plays in helping shape UKPLC. I’m  immensely proud to be part of this amazing sector.

“I’m indebted to the staff in FE who, when I started my studies, believed in me and my dreams and to my family, friends and colleagues who have encouraged and supported me over the years.”

Simon Rainer, chief executive of the British Jewellers’ Association said: “This honour is a fitting recognition of the enormous contribution that Jason has made to advancing the jewellery industry, both through his determination to ensure the sector had skills for the future and his determination to put apprenticeships on the maps.”

_AND2444Services to skills development and to the food and drink industry earned Nestlé UK and Ireland chair and chief executive Fiona Marie Kendrick a damehood, while 10 OBEs were handed out to people related to the FE and skills sector, with half going to principals including the leader of the first general FE college to be rated as outstanding under Ofsted’s current Common Inspection Framework — Walsall College principal Jatinder Sharma (pictured left).

Among those from outside the college sector to have received the award was Sue Crowley (pictured below right), who was chair of the Institute for Learning from 2006 until its closure this year.

She was honoured for services to FE and teaching and told FE Week: “I’m really, really pleased. It is a lovely way to end my career [following the closure of IfL].

“I think the award recognised my long-term involvement with FE. I taught in the sector for 45 years before my time at IfL, so suppose that kind of justifies it.Sue-Crowley-elected-chair-Ifl-web

“I see it as recognition for all the wonderful people I’ve worked with over the years and the amazing work that our sector does transforming lives through training.”

Rodney Bennion (pictured below left) also got an OBE, for services to construction training and the community in the South East in recognition of his work with the Construction Youth Trust (CYT).

He was chair of trustees for the charity, which helps young people to access training, education and employment opportunities in the construction industry, for a decade before standing down six months ago.Rod Bennion 1

Christine Townley, executive director of CYT, said: “I’m delighted that Rodney has been recognised. He showed great dedication to the Trust over many years and really understands the needs of young people and the wider sector — in particular that training needs to be demand-led and prepare young people for roles that are actually required in construction. We’re really pleased for him.”

There were a dozen MBEs for the sector. Among the recipients was Celia Romain, whose public administration work as a higher executive officer at the DfE/BIS joint apprenticeships unit, was credited by a government spokesperson as having been “instrumental in the reform programme”.

Nicky Berry“We are delighted that Celia has been awarded this well-deserved honour in recognition of her work on apprenticeships,” she added.

Beyond Standards director Nicky Perry (pictured right), who also got an MBE, for services to FE and training, said: “I’m surprised and very pleased by this honour — especially as it seems some good friends and clients went out of their way to put my name forward.”

Sheila Selwood, from the Association of Colleges (AoC) governors’ council and lately director of governance at West Hertfordshire College, is set to receive the MBE for services to FE.

Susan Pember, AoC governance adviser, said: “Sheila is an AoC national subject specialist in governance and has been an excellent clerk for many years and is now supporting several colleges to improve their governance arrangements.”

The honours were rounded off with BEMs, of which seven were related to FE and skills.


Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire

For services to skills development and to the food and drink industry

Fiona Marie Kendrick (Tadworth, Surrey), chair and chief executive, Nestlé UK and Ireland


Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

For services to education, learning and skills

Barbara Spicer (St Helens, Merseyside), lately interim chief executive, Skills Funding Agency

For services to FE

Michele Sutton OBE (Didsbury, Greater Manchester), lately principal and chief executive, Bradford College, and former president, Association of Colleges

Dawn Patricia Ward OBE (Birmingham, West Midlands), principal and chief executive, Burton and South Derbyshire College

For services to the jewellery sector and apprenticeships

Jason Holt (London), chief executive, Holts Group, and founder, Holts Academy


Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

For services to FE

Colin Booth (Newton Aycliffe, Durham), principal, Barnsley College

Ian Clinton (Kendal, Cumbria), principal, Stockport College, and lately principal, Blackburn College

Jatinder Kumar Sharma (Wolverhampton, West Midlands), principal and chief executive, Walsall College

Frank Leslie Smith (Sheffield, South Yorkshire), chair of governing body, Chesterfield College

For services to FE and teaching

Sue Crowley (London), lately chair, Institute for Learning

For services to education

Maura Regan (Sedgefield, Durham), principal, Carmel College, and chief executive, Carmel Education Trust

For services to training and improvements

David Timothy Marsh (Neilston, Renfrewshire), offender outcomes unit manager, HM Prison Barlinnie

For services to construction training and the community in the South East

Rodney John Bennion (Ashtead, Surrey), lately chair of trustees, Construction Youth Trust

For services to agri-food education

Dr John Damien Fay (Downpatrick, Down), director, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Northern Ireland Executive

For services to FE in North East Wales

David Baden Jones (Ruthin, Clwyd), principal and chief executive, Coleg Cambria, and lately principal and chief executive, Deeside College


Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

For services to FE

Sheila Selwood (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire), lately director of governance, West Herts College, and member, Association of Colleges governors’ council

For services to FE and training

Nicky Perry (Banwell, North Somerset), director, Beyond Standards

For services to FE for adults with learning difficulties

Maryanne Hodgkinson (Buckley, Clwyd), head of arts, media and business administration, Derwen College

For services to skills training

Jean Duprez (London), senior manager, K&M McLoughlin Decorating Ltd, and Ambassador, London Chamber of Commerce

For services to education

Susan Jane Kirkham (Lymington, Hampshire), lately curriculum and assessment specialist, Association of School and College Leaders

Julie Ann McLean (Plymouth, Devon), director, work-based learning and school partnerships, City College Plymouth

For services to young people through the ICT apprentice scheme

Gail Ramsden (Lancing, West Sussex), senior officer, IT skills and capability manager, Valuation Office Agency

For services to apprenticeships in the chemical and process industries

George Ritchie (Peterlee, Durham), lately senior vice president, Sembcorp UK

For services to the hairdressing industry

Shirley Rose Davis-Fox (Mid Glamorgan), chair, ISA Training, Bridgend

For services to public administration

Celia Romain (London), higher executive officer, joint apprenticeships unit, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Department for Education

For services to FE in Northern Ireland

Celine McCartan (Omagh, Tyrone), deputy director, head of corporate and support services, South West College

For services to education in Northern Ireland

William James Greer (Banbridge, Down), Head, Training Organisation, South Eastern Regional College

British Empire Medal (BEM)

For services to education

James Jackson (London), head caretaker, Woodhouse College, London Borough of Barnet

For services to FE and to the community in Leicestershire

Anne Williams (Loughborough, Leicestershire), lately community development officer, Loughborough College, and borough councillor, Charnwood

For services to further and higher education and to the community in Cornwall

Alan Lemin (Millbrook, Cornwall), head of student recruitment, Plymouth College of Art

For services to prison education

Wendy Ann Sherlock (Watford, Hertfordshire), curriculum co-ordinator for further and higher learning, HM Prison The Mount

For services to horticulture and land-based education

Christopher James Willder (Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire), groundsperson, Brooksby Melton College

For services to adult education

Sharon Tinn (Ellesmere Port, Cheshire), learning in the community worker, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

For services to education and training in the construction sector in Wales

Ann-Marie Smale (Ponthir, Gwent), director, Powell Dobson Architects


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