On Thursday 29 October 2022, the Skills and Education Group exhibited at the inaugural AELP (Association of Employment and Learning Providers) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Summit at 15Hatfields in London.

A trade organisation committed to FREDIE (Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement), AELP put EDI at the heart of everything they do. The summit aimed to share the latest developments and best practices in relation to EDI in the workplace and educational settings.

The event offered topical plenary sessions and informative workshops for delegates to learn more about EDI and how to improve it within their organisations. The emphasis throughout the day was on ‘diverse workforces’ and recognising that a workforce is more effective when staff members feel included and are treated with respect.


“Culture Comes from the top” Welcome and Introductions

The morning began with an introduction from the Summit Chair, Marketing Director and Entrepreneur Tim Campbell MBE. Tim was the first ever winner of the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ back in 2005.

This was followed by an update on AELP’s EDI journey from Sharon Blyfield OBE, AELP Board Member and Head of Early Careers and Apprenticeships GB at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP). Sharon is a trusted advisor and mentor for many apprentices.

After that, there were keynote addresses and a panel discussion from the following speakers:

Anju Virdee – Interim National Head of Leadership Development at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)

Sufian Sadiq – Director of Talent and Teaching at Chiltern Learning Trust

Hollie Cregan – Head of Equality, Diversity and FIR at GRAHAM Group

This was followed by a networking break, which gave delegates an opportunity to learn more about the Skills and Education Group’s work to support diversity and wellbeing. Karen Plowman, Head of Professional Development, and Paul Chivers, Relationship Manager, were on hand to tell attendees about how the Group could support them.


“Be proud of who you are, stand up for who you are” Interactive Workshops

Embedding EDI to Overcome Barriers to Learners from Underrepresented Backgrounds – Facilitated by WorldSkills UK

The focus of this workshop was discovering ways to identify barriers to learners from underrepresented backgrounds, develop effective measures to address these barriers, and how to use data to monitor effective change.

It also highlighted the impact of unconscious bias, lack of diverse role models, use of language, and social and financial barriers with reference to The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) Report. Takeaways from this session were to put more effort into challenging perceptions and stereotypes through marketing, and actively encouraging students from more disadvantaged backgrounds.


Introduction to EDI: Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable – Facilitated by Bilal Harry Khan, Workshop Facilitator and Podcaster

This was a more interactive and emotive workshop with a focus on key concepts of EDI work including privilege, microaggressions, intersectionality, equity and effective allyship.

Delegates were encouraged to actively participate, which led to productive conversations about different perspectives and personal experiences in relation to race, gender, sexuality and other factors.

The afternoon saw a spotlight on mental health and good practices to encourage people to talk about this topic and erase the stigma often attached to mental ill health. Steve Webb, Senior Sales Executive and Qualified Mental Health First Aider, provided several tips for creating a culture of belonging, including:

  • Discuss mental wellbeing in one-to-one meetings

  • Assign a dedicated mental health first aider

  • Create a confidential wellbeing register

  • Ensure regular training and reminders

The Skills and Education Group hosts numerous events and CPD training sessions covering the topics of wellbeing and mental health –  browse our events page to find out more.


“We are human first, recognise you have a voice and, whatever you do for yourself, know you are representing a whole community. ” Final Remarks

The summit ended with a panel for learner voices. Apprentices discussed their experiences in the workplace and the topic of educating others about personal beliefs when you are a newcomer.

One learner shared the idea that “some organisations jump on the bandwagon when it comes to following important movements or celebrating religious dates. What they forget to do is talk to the people that represent such beliefs – doing that will make more of a difference instead of completing a box-ticking task.”

Overall, the summit was a great opportunity to learn more about different EDI practices that can be incorporated within the workplace, while the keynote speeches and workshops were eye-opening.

The Skills and Education Group offers a range of professional development opportunities to support EDI within further education. You can find out more here.

Our events programme includes networks, webinars and training sessions designed to support further education staff.

Browse upcoming events!