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About the London Work Based Learning Alliance

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LWBLA Board

The board is elected annually. Members in each of the five sub-regional networks elect a Chair and vice-Chair, each of whom then become Board Directors of the LWBLA. In addition to the ten elected Directors and the Chair, the National Association of Employment and Learning Providers is represented as an Observer on the Board.


Gary Hunnisett Image

Chair – Gary Hunnisett,
LWBLA Chair and Chair of London South
Smart Training

Gary has headed up new business development for Smart Training for the last 18 months. Prior to that he spent three years as Head of Operations and 10 years as a Business Development Manager serving major blue chip companies in the food & drink retail sector. During this time Gary spent three years working on a half a billion dollar start up company gaining a unique insight enabling him to support any new business. To support him with his roles he completed a two year senior management course set and MBA level, support by Mars, BMW and several government bodies.

He has a strong proven record of

His experience and passion for business development makes him a proactive part of the board.


Vacant Board Member Image

Vice Chair – James Clements Smith,
LWBLA Vice Chair and Vice Chair of London South
www.prevista.co.uk

James joined Prevista in 2003 and became Managing Director in 2004. He was instrumental in developing Prevista’s current offer of pan-London enterprise, skills, employability and NEET programmes.

James has directed numerous large-scale public sector programmes during his 25 year career. His work has always been focused on provision that harnesses the latent potential within marginalised groups such as the long term unemployed, homeless people and immigrant communities. James has been a Director of London East Training and Enterprise Council; London East Connexions Partnership and the Big Issue in Scotland.

In 2008, James led a management buyout of Prevista and became the majority shareholder in the company and now works alongside a non-Executive board to drive company strategy and performance.

James is married to a Partner in a city firm of Solicitors, has three children, two cats, two dogs and spends his free time travelling, reading, cooking and entertaining.


London Central

David Wada Image

Chair – David Wada,
Alan D Hair

David has been involved in hairdressing & barbering training through the same organisation since 1971, and work-based learning from TEC days. However, David is a Chartered Accountant by profession. He chairs the Hairdressing Forum of Habia, the standards setting body for the industry. He recently stepped down from the Westminster 14-19 Board and also the Westminster Schools Forum. David has been involved in Young Enterprise in Croydon for over 35 years, is Hon. Treasurer of a national charity (GAIN), Hon. Treasurer of his local church and a Fellow of the I.O.D. David was a Board member and Treasurer of W.B.L.A. David’s main social interests centre around music, being a member of 3 choirs.

Sue Gidman Image

Vice Chair – Sue Gidman,
GTES UK

Sue is an experienced and effective Director with over 20 years’ experience in the Welfare to Work and Skills sectors with significant operational expertise in improving performance and achieving contract targets. Prior to launching her own consultancy, G T Employability and Skills and working as an Associate Director with PublicCo she had been responsible for operations and delivery for TBG Learning, Intraining and Aspire Achieve Advance. She has significant experience of integrating employment and skills provision, and has delivered programmes in the UK, and internationally, with a value of over £60 million, including delivering 8,000 Apprenticeships with employers including Santander, Jaguar, and the NHS. She has implemented a range of quality systems leading to achievement of Grade One OfSTED inspection across employability and apprenticeship provision. Sue has also written bids and won and implemented new business awarded by DWP, SFA, LDA and ESF. As well as being Vice Chair of London Central Sue has also been a Board member of ERSA, the Employment Related Services Association, and is a Fellow of the newly formed Institute of Employability Professionals. Sue strongly believes that we should give the best possible service and experience to every person who comes into our sector, that we should be innovative, motivational and challenging to ensure people achieve their true potential.

London East

Robert Brooks Image

Chair – Robert Brooks,
Barking & Dagenham College

Rob grew up in East London and has continued to live, study and work in the area as well as taking up the voluntary position of School Governor at his former secondary school. He has nearly a decade of experience working in skills related roles for training providers and FE colleges, specifically related to work based learning with a particular focus on apprenticeships. Rob has also worked in the Welfare to Work industry supporting long term unemployed people to start businesses as well as experience in retail banking. In his current role at Barking and Dagenham College Rob leads a team responsible for building and managing relationships with employers in the region and then coordinating training to help them grow their workforce skills base as well as recruiting apprentices for businesses across a multitude of sectors. Rob represents the sector in groups such as the London Regional Construction Training Group and a number of education business partnerships across London. Outside of his professional life Rob is also a published author and poet and the father of 2 young daughters.

Paul Irving Image

Vice Chair – Paul Irving,
DiVA

Paul is the Chief Executive and part-owner of DiVA, an Independent Training Provider in East London. Paul works across all areas of the business with a strong focus on the business strategy and is currently focused on further developing Diva’s curriculum and service offer to incorporate the needs of the broader Tech sector.
Paul is himself a product of the FE system. Having left school aged 15 with no formal qualifications he started his first business at the age of 17 and has owned and run various businesses ever since. He returned to education through the FE system in the late 1990s to study Information System Design followed by a PGCE.
More recently, Paul left the sector for a year to become CEO of the Reynolds Fitness Group, specialising in Gyms & Spas, with the responsibility for leading the overall direction of the organisation. Prior to this, he was Finance Director at Skills for Growth an East London charity providing education based opportunities to the young people of East and South East London. Throughout his career Paul has owned and run businesses across a broad range of sectors more recently in retail and business consultancy. His company Skillswork, provided a consultancy offer to the skills sector through a range of functions including Finance, Learner Engagement, Business Development, Curriculum Development and Contract Management. Paul has also worked in the Further education sector where he was Director of Skills at Furness College for 6 years.

London North

Diane Betts Image

Chair – Diane Betts,
First Rung Ltd

Diane Betts was born and educated in Walthamstow East London and went on to study accountancy working in the Private Sector. After 10 years Diane returned to East London and entered the charity sector working for Forest YMCA, initially as Finance Director and later as their Operations Director. Diane’s passion for young people, good education and training led her to the Chief Executive’s role at First Rung. Over the last 6 years First Rung has grown in strength and now operates from 4 centres. Diane is also the Chair of the North London Training Providers Network committed to developing and providing high quality training, support and opportunities to young people.

Alexis Michaelides Image

Vice Chair – Alexis Michaelides,
DV8 Training

As the MD of Dv8 Training since 1999, Alexis has overseen the development of the company from a sole trader to an established and successful training provider in London and Brighton with a combined turnover of £2m, 80 staff and rated by Ofsted as ‘Good with Outstanding features’ at the most recent inspection in 2008. Key achievements during this period include;
- Establishing Dv8 Training as a leading provider of creative and media courses in London and the South East
- Developing the Dv8 apprenticeship offer working with high profile employers such as AEG, Festival Republic, ITN News and Barcroft Media
- A key partner in delivering ‘Music Potential’ supported by Choice FM and Barclaycard for 500 young people across London in 2012
-Development of the Dv8 functional skills offer, recognised by Ofsted as national good practice in HM inspectors report 11-12
Alexis has maintained his links with the Creative Industries and is a founder and director of Eastside Records Ltd, a community record label that supports aspiring artists from North and East London and EGA Music, a music management company that provides management services to recording artists signed to major record labels.
At a strategic level, Alexis represents the interests of the work based learning sector as vice chair of the North London Training Provider network (NLTP), a network of 22 WBL providers and Colleges from North and East London and is a board member of tye London Work Based Learning Alliance, an influential network that represents the interests of 130 WBL providers at a regional and national level

London South

Gary Hunnisett Image

Chair - Gary Hunnisett,
Smart Training

Gary has headed up new business development for Smart Training for the last 18 months. Prior to that he spent three years as Head of Operations and 10 years as a Business Development Manager serving major blue chip companies in the food & drink retail sector. During this time Gary spent three years working on a half a billion dollar start up company gaining a unique insight enabling him to support any new business. To support him with his roles he completed a two year senior management course set and MBA level, support by Mars, BMW and several government bodies.

He has a strong proven record of

  • Investing in people linked to reward and recognition
  • Driving change through strategic planning
  • Developing a true customer focused business
  • Maximising sales through targeted marketing and competitor analysis
  • Driving efficiencies via implementation of planned initiatives and upper quartile management
  • Creating a motivated working ethos that supports and growth

His experience and passion for business development makes him a proactive part of the board.

Board Holding Image

Vice Chair - James Clements Smith
www.prevista.co.uk

James joined Prevista in 2003 and became Managing Director in 2004. He was instrumental in developing Prevista’s current offer of pan-London enterprise, skills, employability and NEET programmes.

James has directed numerous large-scale public sector programmes during his 25 year career. His work has always been focused on provision that harnesses the latent potential within marginalised groups such as the long term unemployed, homeless people and immigrant communities. James has been a Director of London East Training and Enterprise Council; London East Connexions Partnership and the Big Issue in Scotland.

In 2008, James led a management buyout of Prevista and became the majority shareholder in the company and now works alongside a non-Executive board to drive company strategy and performance.

James is married to a Partner in a city firm of Solicitors, has three children, two cats, two dogs and spends his free time travelling, reading, cooking and entertaining.

London West

Victor Varlie Image

Chair – Victor Farlie,
Executive Chair, LWBLA

Over the past 10 years he has worked in the private sector creating the Capital Learning Group of companies and more recently was one of the three founder Directors of the Redwood Education Group. Prior to this he worked for Government agencies and was the Deputy Chief Executive of West London Tec. He takes an active interest in public policy, lobbying and representing the interests of all work based learning providers in London. He also represents the LWBLA on the Board of the London Councils Young Person Education and Skills committee. He was a contributor to the Nuffield review of 14-19 Education, and for the past 30 years has supported entrepreneurs and small businesses as the Chair of the Greenwich Enterprise Board.

Vacant Board Member Image

Vice Chair – TBC,
 

 

Observer

Paul Warner Image

Paul Warner,
Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Paul is the Director of Employment and Skills at AELP. Having been a specialist recruitment consultant to the defence industry for six years, Paul started in the post-16 sector in 1993 working on Training for Work contracts for TBG Learning. He subsequently took on a variety of related operational and senior management roles, culminating in a successful tenure as Director of Business Development. On leaving TBG he worked as a consultant for a time, including a spell managing WBL delivery at Barking College in East London, before joining AELP in September 2003 where he now oversees all aspects of operational and policy delivery, particularly concentrating on the alignment of the skills and employability agendas. Paul holds a First Class Honours degree in International Relations from the University of Keele, and an MA in Post-Compulsory Education and Training from the University of Sheffield. He is a Director of the Institute of Employability Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Married with one daughter, hailing from the New Forest but living in Essex, he lists his hobbies as rock music, amateur dramatics and karate.

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