Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Press release – 07 December 2018


AELP appoints its first Devolution Director to help take advantage of fantastic opportunities in the regions


The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has made a senior and very experienced staff appointment in response to fast moving developments in the devolution of skills budgets in England.


As AELP’s new Devolution Policy and Implementation Director, Harminder Matharu, who has previously worked for the Skills Funding Agency and Open University, will initially focus her energies on building relationships with the seven Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Greater London Authority. 


By definition, each region is taking a different approach to improving the skills of its local workforce and providing skills to unemployed people to help them secure sustainable employment.  The differing priorities are already evident in plans announced for the devolved Adult Education Budget (AEB) and senior AELP personnel have been engaged with the largest MCAs to discuss them.


About half of the AEB is being devolved and the regional tenders for the non-grant allocated shares of the budget are requiring considerable resource on the part of the MCAs and other stakeholders with an interest.  AELP and its members have therefore decided that an appointment of a director with the necessary policy expertise is needed to step up engagement with all of the combined authorities and engage with LEPs.  Harminder Matharu will also work closely with AELP’s restructured four regional member networks covering over 40 local provider networks.


AELP is keen to stress that Harminder’s appointment is not only related to the rolling out of the AEB tenders.  The devolution agenda also covers ESF, employment and other skills programmes run by MCAs and LEPs, and mayoral bids to take control of any locally unspent apprenticeship levy.


AELP CEO Mark Dawe comments:


‘Devolution represents a fantastic opportunity for AELP members.  The elected mayors say the current system doesn’t give them the skills they want for their regions and they are looking to do more commissioning instead of just continuing with large grant allocations.


‘With her sector experience and policy expertise, Harminder Matharu will spearhead our drive to build and develop relationships with the combined authorities so that high quality skills providers of all types are given the opportunity to deliver on each mayor’s priorities.  The fact that AELP is making this appointment at director level demonstrates how seriously we are responding to devolution.’


AELP’s new Devolution Policy and Implementation Director, Harminder Matharu, said:


‘It’s really exciting to be the first to take senior responsibility within AELP for the devolution agenda.  Having worked for the skills funding agency and a large provider, I have a real appreciation and understanding of the challenges that both the combined authority officials and providers face, so I look forward to finding much common ground in taking forward the mayoral priorities.’


Support from AELP members for the new appointment

The appointment of Harminder Matharu at director level has been supported financially by a group of AELP members and AELP is extremely grateful for the support.  The members are:


  • Key Training
  • Learning Curve Group                                          
  • London Learning Consortium
  • NCFE
  • Outsource Training & Development
  • PeoplePlus 
  • Prevista
  • Remit Group                                           
  • Skills Training UK                             
  • Umbrella Training.                       


Other AELP members interested in offering financial support should contact AELP chief operating officer, Jane Hickie.  Supporting members form the core of AELP’s devolution steering group.


Harminder Matharu starts work at AELP on 19 December.




Contact Aidan Relf on 07710 305182


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