Tributes have been paid to EEVT cofounder Steve Lawrence, who died at the weekend aged 71 following an illness.
Lawrence, who was managing director of EEVT, set up the business development firm in 1999 with his partner, Lisa Caley. His career in training and education spanned over 30 years and he would go on to play a leading role in the drive for diversity in apprenticeships.
Caley told FE Week that Lawrence died “after a battle bravely fought”.
“Passionate about education and training, Steve was a committed advocate for the sector and believed strongly that teaching and lifelong learning could change lives for the better. He always placed learners at the heart of everything he did, supporting many, often disadvantaged, into training and employment,” she said.
For over two decades, Lawrence and EEVT worked with businesses in vocational training and employment support sectors on bid writing, strategy development and business advice.
David Morley, director of Pitman Training Essex and Suffolk, said: “I have known Steve for over 20 years and he was always there whenever I wanted any advice or ideas to help our businesses.
“He was one of the nicest people I have met and always had time for you, no matter how busy or inconvenient it was for him. His death is a massive loss to us all and will be missed greatly.”
Meetu Madaan, managing director of Skills Provider Limited, said: “Can’t express how sad I am. He has always been by my side, ready to help, listen, support. He was true and honest inside out. I have known him for more than 10 years and he was one of the pillars of where I am now. You will always be remembered.”
Lawrence ran his own business but had also held roles at Reed In Partnership, Computer Gym UK and IC Training Centre, among others, and was the first head judge of the Multicultural Apprenticeships Awards.
Saf Ali, founder of the awards and CEO of Pathway Group, said: “The skills and employability sector has suffered a great loss with the passing of Steve Lawrence. Steve was genuinely valued for his honest talk, his knowledge, his honesty and openness to support and encourage others.”
Lawrence’s commitment to inclusion and diversity in apprenticeships was praised in a tribute from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers. Chief executive Jane Hickie said: “On behalf of AELP, I’d like to send our condolences to Steve’s family and friends. He was a strong advocate for a better skills system so this is a very sad day for our sector. In addition to his work with EEVT, Steve will be remembered fondly for his role as an ambassador at the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards, helping to promote inclusion and diversity within apprenticeships.”
Caley added: “Steve was highly valued for knowledge, honesty and integrity, always happy to listen, help and support where he could. A mentor, inspiration, oracle, or legend, depending on who you ask. He truly was one of a kind and is a great loss to the industry.
“I would like to say thank you for everyone’s comments about Steve. He would be moved and humbled and it has been a great comfort to read them all. He will be missed more than words can say.”