The Commission brings together leading figures from business and the trade unions as well as national and international experts and key stakeholders from across the four nations of the UK. Together, they will shape and inform our thinking and the wider public policy debate.
Sir Ian Diamond (CHAIR)
Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA FRSE FAcSS became National Statistician on 22 October. Sir Ian previously served as a non-executive member of the UK Statistics Authority Board from June 2018 to August 2019.Sir Ian was Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen from 2010 to 2018. He was previously Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research (ESRC) Council and, from 2004 to 2009, Chair of the Research Councils UK Executive Group (2004-2009).Before joining the ESRC, Sir Ian was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton, where he had been for most of his career. Sir Ian is Chair of British Universities and Colleges Sport, Chair of Edinburgh College of Further Education, Chair of Plan International UK and a Board member of UK Research and Innovation. He chaired the Welsh Assembly Government of the Higher Education Review for Wales reporting in 2016.Sir Ian was elected to the UK Academy of Social Sciences in 1999, is a Fellow of the British Academy (2005), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2009) and holds honorary degrees from the universities of Cardiff, Glasgow and Curtin.
Chief Executive, CIPD
Peter is the chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for more than 150,000 HR and people development professionals around the world. He writes and speaks widely on the development of HR, the future of work, and the key issues of leadership, culture and organisation, people and skills.
Peter is a visiting Professor at the University of Lancaster, and sits on the Advisory Board of Bath University School of Management. He holds honorary doctorates from Bath University, Kingston University, and is a Fellow of the CIPD, AHRI (the Australian HR Institute) and the Academy of Social Sciences. He’s also a Companion of the Institute of Leadership and Management, the Chartered Management Institute, and the British Academy of Management.
Prior to joining the CIPD in July 2012, he was Chairman of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a member of the Council of City&Guilds. Up until 2009 he had a long career at Accenture holding various leadership positions and culminating in a seven year spell as Global Managing Director for the firm’s human capital and organisation consulting practice.
Audrey Cumberford MBE FRSE
Principal and Chief Executive, Edinburgh College
Having graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Education, Audrey moved to Bristol University to take up a two-year Graduate Assistant Lecturer post, undertaking research within the field of sports psychology. Following this, she left the higher education sector and moved into private industry before returning to the education sector where she held a number of senior roles. Audrey was appointed to her first principal role in 2010 and in 2012 led the merger of three colleges in the West Region to establish West College Scotland.
Audrey has since taken up post as Principal and Chief Executive of Edinburgh College, Scotland’s largest Regional College, in September 2018.
Audrey served two terms on the Scottish Funding Council Board and was appointed a Member of the Government’s Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board which was established in November 2017. She is the Vice Chair of Scotland’s Colleges Principals Group and was recently appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Chief UK Policy Director, CBI
Matthew is CBI Chief UK Policy Director. As Chief UK, Policy Director Matthew is responsible for developing and shaping the CBI’s domestic policy agenda, including on People and Skills, Infrastructure and Innovation. He also leads the CBI’s work on industrial and regional policy.
Matthew is the CBI’s key spokesperson and has responsibility for political relationships and influencing across these areas of UK policy.
Matthew joined the CBI in 1999 and has covered a range of business sectors including manufacturing, small business and financial services. As director for competitive markets Matthew led the CBI’s work on competition, regulation and corporate governance as well as campaigns to champion the UK's mid-market and the "Great Business Debate" to build public confidence in business. Immediately prior to taking up his current role, Matthew was Chief of Staff with responsibility for the CBI’s strategy, people and governance.
Matthew has considerable experience of engaging with government, regulators and senior business leaders. He is a member of the CBI’s senior leadership team and sits on its Executive Committee.
Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, BA (Hons), PhD
Partner, BH Associates
Professor Ellen Hazelkorn is partner, BH Associates education consultants. She is Professor emerita and Director, Higher Education Policy Research Unit (HEPRU), Technological University Dublin (Ireland), and Joint Editor, Policy Reviews in Higher Education. She is also International Co-Investigator, Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), London, and Research Fellow, Centre for International Higher Education, Boston College, USA.
Ellen is a member of the Quality Board for Higher Education in Iceland (2017-). She is a NAFSA Senior Fellow, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2018-2019 and was awarded the EAIE Tony Adams Award for Excellence in Research, 2018. She was policy advisor to, and board member of, the Higher Education Authority (Ireland), 2011-2017, and President of EAIR (European Society for Higher Education), 2013-2016.
Ellen has worked with international organisations and governments for over 15 years (e.g. EU, OECD, World Bank, UNESCO, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO]). She regularly undertakes strategic and research evaluations for European and national research/scientific councils and universities.
She was Vice President Research and Enterprise, and Dean of the Graduate Research School, (2008-2014), and Vice President and Founding Dean, Faculty of Applied Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology (now TU Dublin) (1995-2008).
She is the author of Towards 2030: a framework for building a world-class post- compulsory education system for Wales (Welsh Government, UK 2016), and has co-authored Skills and Smart Specialisation. The role of Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning in Smart Specialisation Strategies (EU, 2019 forthcoming) and the High-Level Midterm Review of the Further Education and Training Strategy 2014 – 2019, Ireland (Department of Education & Skills, Ireland 2018).
Dr Stephen Farry
Member of Parliament for North Down and Former Minister for Employment & Learning, Northern Ireland
Stephen Farry is the Alliance MP for North Down and was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2007 representing the cross-community, centrist Alliance Party.
Dr Farry served as Minister for Employment and Learning on the Northern Ireland Executive between 2011 and 2016, and had responsibility for Further Education, Higher Education, Apprenticeships, the European Social Fund, the Employment Service and Employment Law. In this role, he developed the further education strategy for Northern Ireland, ‘FE Means Success’, and also put in place new strategies for Apprenticeships, Youth Training and Careers. He has participated on a number of trade missions to the United States to showcase how NI further education colleges can provide training and retraining to address the skill requirements of investing companies.
He has participated in Northern Ireland political negotiations since 1996, including high-level engagement with the UK and Irish Governments, alongside the European Commission and successive United States Administrations. He also holds a PhD in International Relations from the Queen’s University, Belfast and was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, 2005-06.
Director, WORK ADVANCE
Lesley Giles is Director of Work Advance, where she undertakes analysis and evaluation, and provides policy advice around workplace innovation, skills and the world of work.
Until recently she was Director at the Work Foundation where she continues to work as an associate, offering insights to drive their work programme seeking to champion Good Work.
Prior to this, Lesley was Deputy Director and Company Secretary at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, where she provided guidance on skills and employment issues to Industry and Government. In addition, Lesley has worked in a variety of other roles across government undertaking skills and/or employment research and policy advice including: Acting Director for Strategy and Research, and Head of Research, at the Sector Skills Development Agency; and a senior researcher for the Department for Education and Employment, the Employment Service, and the Cabinet Office.
FORMER President, National Union of Students (NUS)
Shakira Martin was formerly the National President of the National Union of Students UK, first elected in 2017. She was previously the Vice President Further Education, representing learners in the UK’s technical colleges, apprenticeship programmes and other forms of vocational education. She is only the second NUS President not to have attended a university, having attended Lewisham and Southwark College, where she studied leadership and management.
Shakira’s focus as president has been on student poverty and the barriers to working class students in accessing and succeeding in education; securing a people’s vote on Brexit; and major reforms to NUS’s democracy and governance.
Following her presidency at NUS, Shakira is now the Head of Student Experience of Rose Bruford College. Her role is to bring together student experience and journey. Shakira recently joined the board of Lambeth College as part of the South Bank College group and also sits on the Office for Students panel.
Former Principal and Chief Executive, Belfast Metropolitan College
Marie-Thérèse was appointed Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College in 2009. She worked closely with the Governing Body in ensuring the efficient and effective management of the College. This included its financial performance and the quality of its teaching, learning and assessment.
Marie-Thérèse began her career as a teacher in further education. In the 1990s she moved to develop policy for the Youth Service in Northern Ireland and in 1995 joined the Civil Service as a secondee to the Urban Regeneration Initiative, Making Belfast Work. She was appointed Director of Development at Belfast City Council in 1999 and has spoken all over the world on the issue of urban regeneration.
Marie-Thérèse has held numerous advisory, visiting and honorary posts. She is a member of the CBI Council for Northern Ireland, a member of the Association of Colleges World Skills Portfolio Group, a board member of the Titanic Foundation, a non-executive Director of the Strategic Investment Board, a Director of the Collab Group and is a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute.
She has received a great many awards over the course of her career, with the most recent being Outstanding Business Woman of the Year Award (Women in Business, November 2017). Other accolades include the IOD UK Public Sector Director of the Year Award (2015) and the Women in Leadership Network’s Inspirational Leader of the Year award (2013).
Professor Ewart Keep
Director, SKOPE (University of Oxford)
Professor Ewart Keep holds a chair in Education, Training and Skills at the Department of Education, Oxford University. He has a first degree in modern history (London) and a PhD in industrial relations (Warwick). He has previously worked at Warwick Business School and at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences. He is director of the Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE).
Keep has undertaken research and published extensively on the formation of skills policies in the UK, managerial attitudes towards investment in skill, lifelong learning, apprenticeships, workplace training and development, recruitment and selection; higher education policy, youth transitions to the labour market, the different incentives to learn that act upon individuals, the role of skills and work organisation in workplace innovation, and more latterly the marketization and partial devolution of funding for FE. He has advised the UK Cabinet Office; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; the NAO; the Scottish and Welsh governments; UK Commission for Employment and Skills; the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; the OECD; the Government Office for Science (Foresight); two House of Commons select committee inquiries, and one Scottish Parliament committee inquiry. He has also undertaken work for the Australian Commonwealth Government, the governments of New South Wales and Queensland; and the government of New Zealand.
He is currently a member of Quality and Qualifications Ireland’s Policies and Standards Committee; HEFCW’s Student Opportunity and Achievement Committee; the Scottish Government Strategic Labour Market Group; DfE Skills Policy Analysis Academic Panel; and the Greater London Authority's London Skills Strategy Task and Finish Group.
Amanda Melton CBE
Former Chief Executive, Nelson and Colne College Group
Following a modern languages degree, Amanda worked in international software systems sales and implementation, supporting geneticists in early digital analysis techniques. She became a teacher in IT, business and languages with the arrival of her family – now grown up.
Amanda Melton was appointed Principal and Chief Executive of Nelson and Colne College in March 2012. The College is rated Ofsted ‘Outstanding’, and is one of the top five performing colleges nationally, delivering A Levels, technical and vocational training up to degree level, and Apprenticeships. Since Amanda’s arrival, the College has expanded to include Lancashire Adult Learning, delivering adult skills education across the County. In 2018, Accrington & Rossendale College also joined the Nelson & Colne College family under Amanda’s leadership.
In 2013, Amanda led the creation of the Pendle Education Trust, a multi-academy trust initially set up to address the particular needs of poor-performing schools. The Trust is currently responsible for five academies, of which three have already improved by two Ofsted grades since transferring to the Trust.
Amanda is formerly a Director at the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP Champion for Skills and Technical Education) and Chair of the Lancashire LEP Skills Advisory Panel. She was also formerly Director of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.
Deputy General Secretary, Trades Union Congress (TUC)
Paul Nowak was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the TUC in 2013, and subsequently confirmed as Deputy General Secretary in February 2016.
He leads on a number of key policy areas including public services, transport and industrial policy. In addition he has responsibility for the TUC’s organisation in Wales and the English regions, annual Congress, union organising and inter-union relations.
Paul has previously served as the TUC’s regional secretary in the North East & Cumbria and as the TUC’s national organiser.
He was appointed a member of the ACAS Council in November 2011.
Award winning broadcaster
Steph McGovern has been working in financial journalism for over 15 years and has been part of the BBC Breakfast family for the last eight, both as the business correspondent and main programme presenter. Steph also presents primetime BBC One consumer shows Watchdog and Shop Well For Less. In 2018 Steph made her debut as the host of long running comedy panel show, Have I Got News For You, having successfully appeared twice as a panelist. Steph also launched a new show for BBC Two; Made in Great Britain and became the host of the Dragon’s Den spin-off Pitches to Riches.
Steph travels all over the UK to cover economic and business stories for the BBC and since joining Breakfast has broadcast live from over 600 businesses. Whether she’s talking to workers in factories or interviewing FTSE 100 chief executives in the studio, Steph makes it her mission to find out what’s going on in the real economy. As part of her BBC News work Steph has also interviewed several world leaders, including Donald Trump.
Originally from Middlesbrough, Steph's first taste of BBC life came aged 19, when she made a guest appearance on a programme about women in science. Steph had just won the title of Young Engineer for Britain, after saving Black & Decker money on a design she created for their Leaf Hog product. Following her appearance, Steph secured work experience on Tomorrow's World and not long after, made it on to the payroll as a part-time researcher, while studying at University College London.
After graduating she became the main producer for daily financial news on the Today programme on Radio 4, securing interviews with top business leaders and running a number of foreign projects, including a stint in Chicago covering the trial of Conrad Black and a series from Brazil investigating the biofuels industry.
Two years later, within weeks of becoming the producer for the then economics editor, Evan Davis, the financial world was in meltdown. Steph has covered its developments ever since. For three years Steph was the lead producer of business news on the BBC's main news bulletins working with the then business editor, Robert Peston.
Never shy of putting in the hours, Steph also spent time building up her own on-air profile, which included working as a business presenter on the Chris Evans show on Radio 2 and on BBC 5 live.
Along with her daily news duties, Steph is also involved in BBC community projects, such as BBC Young Reporter and BBC School Report. Steph is passionate about education and is a mentor for young people in Teesside, running workshops for schoolchildren around the North East.
And when she's not talking money or media, Steph is a former champion Irish dancer and often attends international competitions to help coach dancers.
Executive Chair (UK Regions/ Ireland), Weber ShaNdwick
Nora is Executive Chair UK Regions/Ireland of global corporate marketing and communications consultancy, Weber Shandwick. She is part of the EMEA senior leadership team of the international agency, which has over 3,000 employees in 129 offices in 81 countries. Her remit involves the management of multi-market accounts, advising both FTSE100 organisations as well as start-up companies, building brands and market share via UK, North America, Middle East and Pan-Asia. A recipient of the First Woman of UK Media Award, she was previously Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi (North).
She is the non-exec Chair of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Board, established to align the work of the enterprise and skills agencies in Scotland, to drive inclusive, sustainable economic growth.
A former Businesswoman of the Year, Nora is the immediate past President of British Chambers of Commerce and immediate past-Chair of Scottish Chambers of Commerce. She is a current Board Member of the International Chambers of Commerce and a Regional Adviser to London Stock Exchange. She is also Vice Chair of Council of the University of Nottingham.
She was honoured with a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2017 for services to UK businesses.
Principal and Chief Executive, Bridgend College
Simon is Principal and Chief Executive of Bridgend College, rated as ‘excellent’ by Estyn (March 2016). Estyn commented that “the Principal provides inspiring leadership that has had a significant impact on the transformation of the College”.
Simon is the winner of the 2018 Institute of Directors (UK) Director of the Year for the Public Sector. Bridgend College has achieved a number of prestigious awards including WhatUni UK FE College of the Year for Higher Education (2018); a UK AoC Beacon Award for Leadership and Governance (2018) and Apprenticeship Provider of the Year for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (2018). Bridgend College is the highest ranked FE College in the UK in the Times 100 Best Companies (not for profit organisations) to work for in both 2017 and 2020. In 2019, Bridgend College was named Times Educational Supplement College of the Year and in 2021, Bridgend College was awarded an AOC Beacon Award for its work on mental health and wellbeing.
Simon received an OBE in the 2020 New Years Honours list for his services to FE and HE. He has worked in the education sector for over thirty years. This includes work in the Higher Education, Further Education and School sectors. He has also worked as a Head of Department in Los Angeles, USA on a year long Fulbright Scholarship.
Simon sits on the Advisory Board for Academi Wales and is a Board member of National Theatre Wales.
Simon lives in Ystradgynlais and is married to Kelly and has three children.
Principal and CEO, Barking & Dagenham College
Yvonne has been Principal and CEO of Barking & Dagenham College since 2016, offering vocational, technical and professional education and training, from entry to level 7 to prepare young people and adults for work or for university.
The College is diverse and inclusive, reflecting the local community of Barking and Dagenham both in terms of its student population, its staff and leadership team.
Yvonne takes an active role as a trustee on the CITB, Creative and Cultural Skills, Care City and the Youth Zone Board; and is an advisor on the Pearson FE Reference Group and WorldSkills UK Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group.
Principal and Chief Executive, Southern Regional College
Brian took up position as the Chief Executive of the Southern Regional College on 1 January 2008.
Prior to the formation of the Southern Regional College, Mr Doran held the position of Deputy Director for Teaching and Learning at Newry and Kilkeel Institute.
Brian has taught in both the post primary and further education sectors.
Brian is a past graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University and has recently completed a senior leadership programme at the University of Oxford.
He maintains strong ties with the business, education and training sector across Northern Ireland and has served on a number of committees and advisory groups:
- WorldSkills UK Board Member
- NI representative on the Independent Commission on The College of the Future
- NI College Representative on the Four Nations Strategic Alliance Group
- Chair of Northern Ireland FE College Principals Group 2017-20
- Greater Newry Vision Group – Chamber of Commerce and Trade
- Youth Training and Apprenticeship Project Board, Department for the Economy
- Interim Strategic Advisory Forum, Department for the Economy
- Review Group on GCSE and A Level, Department of Education
- CCEA Regulatory Advisory Committee
- Accounting Technician Ireland, Education Board
- Colleges NI – Director
- Governor St Michael’s Primary School, Killean, Newry