Youth Employment UK Conference 2015

Youth Friendly Employment Conference 2015

Creating a Youth Friendly Culture

Themes & Speakers


Laura-Jane Rawlings

Founder and CEO, Youth Employment UK

Laura-Jane is the founder and CEO of Youth Employment UK CIC. Laura-Jane’s youth employment experience spans over 15 years and ranges from recruiting young people into entry level and apprenticeship roles to working for an Education Business Partnership supporting employer engagement, careers and work related learning in education.

Laura-Jane’s expertise includes careers education, employability training and transition into employment. Laura-Jane is a passionate advocate of young people and ensuring that young people are consulted on the policies and issues that affect them.

Youth Employment UK CIC is a membership organisation that specialises in youth employment and includes a large membership of 16-24 year olds and a national ambassador network. Working with government, employers and organisations invested in youth employment Laura-Jane ardently campaigns for a Youth Friendly UK.

Rt Hon Priti Patel MP

Minister of State for Employment

Priti Patel was appointed Minister of State (Minister for Employment) on 11 May 2015. She was Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury from July 2014 to May 2015. Priti was first elected the Member of Parliament for Witham in May 2010.

Priti attended a comprehensive school in Watford before studying economics at Keele University and then completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Essex.

Priti was elected as the Member of Parliament for Witham in May 2010. In November 2013, the Prime Minister appointed Priti as the first ever UK Indian Diaspora Champion.

Priti previously worked in the communications industry and prior to the General election in 2010, she was the Director of Corporate Communications at Weber Shandwick.

Priti is married with a young son.

The Minister of State for Employment is responsible for:

  • Employment, unemployment, youth unemployment and Fuller Working Lives
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • The Work Programme and Work Choice
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Childcare

Youth Voice

Neil Burke

Regional Development Officer, Youth Focus: North East
Neil joined the Youth Focus: North East team in March 2008 where his role focussed on ensuring that the Regional 14 – 19 Educational Commission incorporated young people’s views and opinions in their decision making on the 14 – 19 educational agenda.

Neil currently manages Youth Focus: North East's programmes which aim to address issues related to youth unemployment. This includes acting as the Youth Involvement Officer of BIG Lottery Fund's Talent Match North East programme and further developing Youth Focus: North East's young person led pre-employability programme Reducing the Skills Gap.

Caryl Coton

Education and Skills Specialist, National Grid
Caryl Coton gained a Combined Science BSc Hons before starting with National Grid. Caryl has been with National Grid nearly twenty years, starting within National Grid Metering, where she lead on the creation of the Training Strategy and lead Mobilisation Projects. Since 2010 Caryl has been inspiring the next generation of engineers through a wide range of programmes.

Joanne Rich

Youth Engagement Manager, Affinity Sutton

Joe Rich has spent the last ten years working in the voluntary and public sector with young people as a direct practitioner and in shaping services for young people. Joe’s youth engagement skills were developed as xl coordinator at The Princes Trust which led her to work in schools and prisons across Yorkshire with NEET young people to develop their life skills and later at Unltd through working on their innovative campaign to find young social entrepreneurs across the country through providing funding and support for their ideas.Joe’s thorough understanding of how to run a successful project originates from advising and administering grants for BBC Children in Need.All of these experiences, along with running an International youth festival, have led to her positon today where she is responsible for the youth strategy and youth programmes at Affinity Sutton.The award winning Ambassador programme that Joe has developed embodies the values: to give young people a voice and improve perceptions of young people, while providing them with invaluable skills for their future. As a result of her success in the sector, Joe has become Chair of a network of Housing Associations who meet regularly to discuss issues affecting young people, in relation to sustaining their tenancies and youth unemployment. This has led to her leading the action focused events: ‘Time for Action’ where 10 national youth organisations are invited to collaborate with the network to achieve more effective and better quality partnershipsfor the benefit of young people.Joe is very passionate about driving change for the benefit of young people across communities.

Creating Opportunity

Anne Spackman

Chief Executive, Career Ready

Anne joined Career Academies UK from The Times, where her roles included Managing Editor, Digital Editor and, most recently Assistant and Comment Editor. She was awarded an OBE for services to charity in 2002 for her work as a Trustee and Chairman of One Parent Families.

Iain Salisbury

Chief Operating Officer, learndirect

Iain manages the day to day operations and strategy of learndirect in his role as Chief Operating Officer of Apprenticeship & Employment Services. learndirect are the UK’s largest provider of Apprenticeships; Adult Skills; and Employment Related Services delivering training and support to over 200,000 individuals each year.  Iain has worked in both the public and private sectors; across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; as a subcontractor and a Prime across the whole range of Apprenticeship and Employment Related Services contracts and is seen as an industry expert on integrating employability and skills programmes. Iain has a track record of developing innovative high performing large scale government contracts such as Work Programme, as well as improving operational performance on existing contracts. Iain previously worked for NCG, Reed in Partnership and prior to that for Dixons group for over 10 year and has an MBA from the Open University.

Emma Judge

Head of Student Recruitment (interim), EY

Emma has specialised in student recruitment and development for over 15 years.  She is currently responsible for Student Recruitment at EY, one of the largest student recruiters in the UK.

Emma started her career at EY where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant.  After an internal secondment to Student Recruitment and time managing the National Exam Training team, Emma became  Head of Student Recruitment in 2005.   Emma was responsible for innovative programmes such as the EY Degree as well as implementing the firm’s transition to Strengths Based Recruitment.  Emma moved in 2010 to become Head of  UK Student Recruitment at BP where she worked with the team to completely overhaul the selection process reducing time to hire by 32% and introduced a ground breaking Candidate Charter. During this time BP rose to their highest ever ranking in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers and won the Times Top 100 Best Engineering Recruiter award. Emma is now an independent Graduate Recruitment and Development Consultant working with a  variety of public and private sector clients. 

Recognising Talent

Charlotte Hill

Chief Executive, Step Up To Serve
Charlotte became Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve in April 2014 in the first year of the Campaign. Prior to joining the #iwill campaign she had been Chief Executive of UK Youth  since  2010.

After studying Political Science & Philosophy at Birmingham University and working part time for Richard Burden MP during her studies, Charlotte started her career working in Parliament for Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP in a number of roles.  After five years with Harriet Harman, Charlotte moved to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) as their Parliamentary Advisor.

Charlotte is an RSA Fellow, Companion at the CMI, Vice Chair of Whole Education, a trustee of Football League Trust and also a member of the Management Committee of Westminster House Youth Club in her local area.  She also sits on the Advisory Panel for both Try for Change and Unleashing Potential.

In 2012 Charlotte received the award of “Rising CEO Star” at The Charity Times Awards.

Nichola Hay

Director, Outsource Training and Development
Nichola Hay is an expert in the delivery of work based learning. With over 20 years of operational experience and currently as the Director of Outsource Training and Development she has built a reputation for the delivery of high quality learning experiences for young people within the sector.

Nichola is a Board member for the AELP, sits on the 14-19 Strategic Group for Hounslow in West London, and previously Chair of the Work Based Learning Alliance Provider Forum in West London and a Board member for the Work Based Learning Alliance in London.

Currently Nichola has established a working group with the SFA, DWP, BIS, JCP and NCS to support the promotion of Apprenticeships to schools, colleges, young people and their parents. A pilot project with the ambition to roll the model out across England.

Working and consulting with national brand names Nichola is actively involved in reviewing NOS and the implementation of Trailblazers reflecting her long and established involvement in a variety of sectors.

Kim Pattison

Head of Communications and Public Affairs, Interserve

Kim started her career in marketing within the construction sector, where she carried out a number of sales and marketing roles spanning almost 15 years before choosing to move into the social justice arena. This allowed her to pursue her passion in social policy to help improve people’s life chances, when in 2002 she joined Working Links, specialists in employment, training, rehabilitation and consultancy services. Here she progressed to head up the Public Affairs, PR and Research function by the time she left the company after 8 years.

In October 2010, Kim joined what was then the Employment & Skills Group (esg), later acquired by Interserve in 2014 and rebranded as Interserve Learning & Employment. In her role as Head of Comms and Public Affairs and as part of the SMT she leads on brand development and positioning of the business, both in the UK and overseas, having worked extensively on supporting the introduction and implementation of the business and its contracts in Saudi Arabia. A key role this year has been in driving the full rebrand of esg to Interserve Learning & Employment following its acquisition and subsequent integration into the Interserve business. She also leads on internal communications strategy and stakeholder engagement, while also fulfilling a role as an Interserve Employee Foundation Ambassador as part of the Group’s commitment to its SustainAbilities agenda.

Kim is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and still enjoys the challenges that changes to marketing practices bring to her role. She lives in Sheffield and is a keen-but-amateur runner and swimmer, having raised money predominantly for the Alzheimer’s Society and MacMillan through a variety of charity sporting events.

Fair Employment

Beth Gardner

Chief Executive, Fair Train
Beth is responsible for the strategic management and development of Fair Train, in order to support organisations within the voluntary and community sector with workforce development. Beth is passionate about the impact which work based learning can have on individuals and organisations, both in their local context and within the wider economy. This is evident from her career in organisations that all have a strong focus in developing and inspiring people in both paid and volunteer roles. An ecologist by trade, Beth has been a CEO within the voluntary and community sector for over six years, and joined Fair Train in August 2014. Alongside her career experience, Beth has an MBA specialising in strategy, and creativity and innovation; and a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) postgraduate marketing qualification.

Gary Rimmer

Operations Director, Key Training Group
Having spent the last 28 years within the work based learning arena, Gary has developed his skills and experience, progressing through many roles from Assessor / Trainer to Operational Management. In 2007 he took his first role at Director level.

Having progressed from managing local provision in 2003, Gary has spent the last 12 years overseeing national provision working for some of the UK’s largest training providers. His focus during this time was delivery to large employers which have included: Ford, Citroen, Vodafone, Phones 4u, BHS and JD Wetherspoon.

Gary’s strengths provide for creating and developing delivery strategies, systems and processes, as well as creating a highly motivated team of people who can deliver the Key Training vision.

Sandy MacDonald

Head of Sustainability, Standard Life PLC
After a degree in Biological Sciences, and a short stint in the book publishing industry in London, he’s worked in a range of roles at Standard Life. These have included customer communications, internal communications, and European and International government relations. Outside of his day job he’s also held several external appointments in the charity sector, focusing on children and young people. He’s currently deputy chair of Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity, and a member of the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Project leadership group. Standard Life are one of 12 companies appointed as Social Mobility Business Champions by the UK Government in recognition of their work in this area, and were the first private sector business to achieve Living Wage Friendly Funder status. Outside of work, Sandy likes running, cycling and hillwalking and he’s trying to prolong the time until his children can out-do him at all of them for as long as possible.

Developing People

Jemeela Quraishi

Development Manager (Steps Ahead Mentoring), Community Investments Team, CIPD

Jemeela works as Development Manager for the high profile, national employer volunteering programme Steps Ahead Mentoring, within the CIPD’s Community Investment team. The Steps Ahead programme matches CIPD member volunteers with jobseekers (primarily 18-24) to help them improve their employability skills, build their confidence and find work. Jemeela is responsible for the management and future development of the programme and has high ambitions around expanding the reach of the programme to support more groups, including 50 plus jobseekers and parent returners, and to create a world-class mentoring programme for CIPD member volunteers and mentees.

Before joining CIPD, Jemeela worked at the educational charity STEMNET, managing the STEM Ambassadors programme, which encouraged STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) professionals to volunteer in schools to help engage more young people, in these subjects and careers.  Jemeela also worked for a number of years as a science researcher at the National Physical Laboratory.


Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Acumen

Kate Welch OBE DL is the founder and Chief Executive of Social Enterprise Acumen CIC which aims to create more enterprising communities by supporting social entrepreneurs and social enterprises to develop and grow. Last year Social Enterprise Acumen CIC supported two hundred and thirty five early stage social entrepreneurs across the North East of England. They are now launching a programme for young social entrepreneurs who want to start their own social enterprises or make a career in social enterprise. Kate is a serial social entrepreneur having founded her first social enterprise, Acumen Development Trust, in 2003 which still successfully operates in East Durham supporting long term unemployed people into economic activity.

Kate is currently a Leader, Trainer and Council member of Girlguiding, a Non-Executive Director of the North East Social Investment Company and was a Board Member of the Regional Development Agency, One North East for six years. Kate was the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Social award winner for the North in 2008 when she also received the OBE for services to Social Enterprise. She is a Trustee of the Greggs Foundation, a Director of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce.