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‘Skills training now better matches employers’ needs’: MBE in New Year’s Honours List for training and education champion

A CHAMPION of employer-influenced education to bridge the skills gap across the UK economy has received a MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Ruth Devine pictured above, managing director of electrical installation contractor SJD Associates, has been leading the campaign to reform and enhance apprenticeships and other technical qualifications.

As well as running SJD Associates, Ms Devine is a route panel member of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical and Education. She is an advocate of technical education – apprenticeships, in particular – and of improvements to the culture and diversity of the construction industry.

She chairs two electrotechnical industry skills groups – the Electrical Contractors’ Association’s Skills Committee and The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership. Ms Devine also belongs to the Construction Leadership Council’s People and Skills Network and the cross-government and industry Construction Skills Delivery Group.

She helped develop the first of a new wave of employer-designed government apprenticeships a decade ago for the electrotechnical sector. The Installation and Maintenance Electrician apprenticeship launched in 2015 and Ms Devine has since contributed to the roll-out of and regular updates to more than 90 other apprenticeships, three T Levels and 20 Higher Technical Qualifications.

To receive a MBE is “an incredible privilege,” she said. “I am so pleased to have been able to support the reform and improvement of apprenticeships, T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications. It is thanks to thousands of large and small businesses, like SJD, that standards have risen and skills training now better matches employers’ needs.”

She urged more employers to be involved with the IfATE’s work. “I will continue to work with IfATE and would encourage many other businesses to do the same for the good of filling skills gaps in their sectors and encouraging future generations of trainees.”

 IfATE has overseen some sweeping reform to apprenticeships and technical qualifications, backed by thousands of UK employers. The employer-led approach has pushed up standards and made sure programmes match up to the real skills needs if business. It also gives learners confidence that they are being taught skills that are highly valued in the workplace, setting them up for successful careers.

SJD Associates, based at Stonebridge in Milton Keynes, was named the IfATE’s Apprenticeship Development Partner of the Year at the Department for Education’s National Apprenticeship Awards in December. IfATE chief executive Jennifer Coupland said: “SJD is an outstanding example of the work thousands of employers are doing day in and day out, working with IfATE to design apprenticeships for their sectors. Having employers like SJD setting standards for apprenticeships gives real confidence to other employers that apprenticeships are now a gold standard training route.”

Of Ms Devine she added: “She has led by example, employing many apprentices over the years, and has been a powerful advocate for the needs of small businesses within the apprenticeship system.  Her contribution towards apprenticeships and technical education has been immense and she is an inspiration to employers across the country interested in making sure they really work for businesses and learners.”

Ms Devine said: “As a founding route panel member, it’s a real privilege to support IfATE’s important work to improve the apprenticeship system. It’s hugely rewarding to be involved and see the positive, long-lasting impacts for apprentices and employers.

“It is so important that small employers help shape apprenticeships to suit their business needs.”

Shalom Lloyd.

‘I am in shock, humbled, overwhelmed, grateful and can’t stop smiling…’

 BUSINESSWOMAN Shalom Lloyd has been honoured in His Majesty The King’s New Year’s Honours List with a MBE for services to international trade and to women in business.

Mrs Lloyd founded her Naturally Tribal Skincare business in 2014 after her newborn twin son Joshua developed eczema and she turned to the plant products of her native Africa for an alternative to treating his condition with chemical emollients and steroids.

“It is a tremendous privilege, and I am immensely proud to lead organisations that play positive roles in the lives of people globally,” said Mrs Lloyd, whose business has expanded to include Naturally Tribal Nigeria, JE Oils – which takes natural agricultural resources in Nigeria, particularly peanut oil and shea butter, and manufactures quality agricultural commodities for local supply and global export. “This honour is a reflection of the fantastic work of all my colleagues and the support we provide to the customers and communities we serve.

“I am incredibly grateful to those who worked to make this Honour happen and they have my commitment that my service to humanity will always remain at the forefront of everything I do.”

She also paid tribute to the support her business received from the government’s Department for Business and Trade.


Mostaque Koyes.

“I accept this huge honour for all of us’: Town champion’s community work earns him a MBE

BUSINESSMAN and Luton champion Mostaque Koyes is also included in the New Year’s Honours List.

The director of Bartham Group and founder of the CIC Community Interest Luton has been awarded a MBE for his services to the community in Luton.

Mr Koyes said: “It is always great to hear about the amazing achievements of people from around the United Kingdom when announcements of this kind are made. I am truly humbled to be worthy of inclusion.
I am thankful to all those closest to me. This includes the very many people who have supported my work, especially those from around Luton’s rich and diverse communities and businesses. I include here my family, as well as my amazing team at Community Interest Luton. My success is theirs too and I accept this huge honour for all of us.”

Pam Gosal.

Former council economy chief honoured for her services to business

PAM Gosal, now a Conservative MSP in the Scottish Parliament and former head of Economy and Culture at Milton Keynes Council, has received a MBE for her services to business, to racial equality and to charity in Milton Keynes.

Ms Gosal was in post at the council for 15 years before leaving in 2019 to begin her political career. She now sits in the Scottish Parliament as a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party  MSP for the West Scotland region.

She worked in various roles across Milton Keynes Council, creating its Economic Development department and heading the Cultural, Arts and Heritage service. She has worked very closely with private, public and voluntary organisations inside and outside the city.

Ms Gosal described the MBE as “the honour of my lifetime”. She added:  “I would like to thank everyone who helped me to promote charities, support businesses and improve racial equality. These issues are so important to me and I will always continue to champion them.”

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