New Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education chair named

A life peer who stood in the London mayoral election for 2020 has been appointed as the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s new chair.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith has been appointed by education secretary Gavin Williamson to serve in the post from 1 August 2021 for a period of five years.

She replaces Antony Jenkins who left the role this summer – almost a year earlier than planned.

McGregor-Smith joined the Department for Education as a non-executive board member in December 2015 but will end her term on November 30. A DfE spokesperson said she will not be involved in “any discussions which could be seen to be a conflict” until she leaves the post. 

McGregor-Smith is also currently the president of the British Chambers of Commerce. She was formerly the chief executive of the Mitie Group, an outsourcing company, and received a CBE for services to business and diversity in business in 2012 and was a created a life peer in the House of Lords in 2015.

She stood in the London Mayor election for 2020, but was not shortlisted for the role.

McGregor-Smith said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed as chair of the institute at this incredibly exciting time for employer-led apprenticeships and technical education.

“I have always been passionate about supporting people from all backgrounds to smash glass ceilings and progress as far as they possibly can. Hundreds of fantastic apprenticeships and the first T Levels are already transforming lives for the better and I look forward to helping ensure that the full suite of technical education fully supports employers to fill all their skills gaps and learners of all ages into long and successful careers.”

McGregor-Smith is one of a small number of women who have held the position of chief executive in the FTSE 250 and the first Asian woman to be appointed in such a role within that group of companies.

She is a member of the Risk Assessment and Risk Planning Committee in the House of Lords and was responsible for the Independent Report to the UK Government on Race in the Workplace published in February 2017.

She was appointed as the government’s In-Work Progression Commissioner in 2020, is chair of behavioural change specialists Mind Gym PLC and the Air Operators’ Association and serves as a non-executive director with the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I am delighted to appoint Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith as the new chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

“As a former chief executive of the Mitie Group, along with her non-executive roles at both the DCMS and my own Department and her work on diversity in business, she has demonstrated the credibility and leadership skills needed to guide the Institute in its next phase of development and to champion its mission with employers.

“I look forward to working with Baroness McGregor-Smith on our reforms to technical education, as we continue to transform the skills and further education landscape, levelling up opportunities, delivering high quality apprenticeships and technical qualifications, and helping everyone to get the skills they need to succeed.”

McGregor-Smith will be paid £29,500 annually for a time commitment of one day per week as chair of the IfATE.

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