Training sector pays tribute to ‘big character’ Gareth Phillips

The former EDI PLC, People 1st and Vistar Qualifications boss has passed away

The former EDI PLC, People 1st and Vistar Qualifications boss has passed away

30 Aug 2023, 16:14

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Tributes have been paid to awarding body boss Gareth Phillips after he died following a battle with cancer.

Phillips worked in the skills training and awarding sectors for over 20 years. Most recently he founded Vistar Qualifications Ltd in 2015, which is an end-point assessment organisation for nine apprenticeship standards.

Regulator Ofqual published a notice today stating that Vistar has surrendered its recognition following Phillips’ death. The company will now be wound down.

Innovate Awarding has stepped in to maintain a record of EPA results issued by Vistar. Innovate’s chief executive Charlotte Bosworth described Phillips as “one of the big characters of the awarding and EPAO sector”.

She said: “Gareth was always on hand to provide sound advice and be a critical friend. Gareth and his contributions will be hugely missed by the sector and personally I will miss his friendship.”

Before setting up Vistar, Phillips led on commercial development at awarding body BIIAB. He was also the director of Educational Development International (EDI) Ltd before it was acquired by Pearson in 2011.

John McNamara, the incoming interim chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies and current chair of Innovate Awarding, said Phillips was a “staunch advocate for vocational skills training and always sought to put the interests of learners first.

“He is sadly missed for his positive and optimistic view on life. Whenever I met him at FAB conferences or other events, he generated energy and friendly enthusiasm, and of course humour. My thoughts and condolences go to his family at this sad time.”

Anna Phillips, who worked with her father Gareth Phillips at Vistar Qualifications, said: “Gareth will be dearly missed by all friends, colleagues, and the sector, of which he contributed greatly to, demonstrated by the kind words and heart-felt tributes received from so many people.

“He was never willing to compromise on quality and expected the highest standards and commitment from his team. Gareth guided, mentored, supported, and believed in others throughout his professional and personal life to help them to be the best they can be, and we hope this continues to positively contribute to the sector.”

Phillips was also managing director of training provider People 1st in the mid-2000s.

Paul Warner, director of strategy and business development at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “It is really sad news to hear Gareth recently passed away. As chief executive of Vistar, he brought a wealth of experience to the skills sector and his commitment to work-based learning speaks for itself. All those at AELP who knew Gareth will be thinking of him and his family.”

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