The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is absolutely delighted that two of our board members have been recognised in the 2022 New Year’s Honours, among other senior leaders in the FE and Skills sector. Sharon Blyfield and Brenda McLeish were both awarded OBEs for their services.

Commenting on their recognition, AELP Chief Executive Jane Hickie said: “AELP Board Chair Martin Dunford OBE and I would like to congratulate Sharon Blyfield and Brenda McLeish on their honours, which they both so richly deserve. Their contribution over many years has made a huge difference to the lives of learners and the skills needs of employers.

Both have spent decades supporting learners and employers, and over the past few years this has been in very difficult circumstances. We know the pandemic is far from over. Despite a multitude of issues, they have dedicated themselves to helping learners and businesses alike to succeed to the best of their abilities. They have also constantly championed the value and impact of independent training providers in the FE sector.

Sharon offers so much support to AELP as one of our board members. She has played an integral role in our efforts to champion equality, diversity, and inclusion and lead by example in the wider sector. We were proud to have achieved Investors in People accreditation in 2021 and look to do much more on this important agenda over coming years. Sharon’s dedication has been recognised by AELP, the Coca-Cola Europacific Partners leadership team, as well as her peers and apprentices- and now by Her Royal Highness.

Brenda is a constant source of energy and enthusiasm on the AELP board, particularly in supporting our policy development and lobbying activity. All of the board will agree that she is a fantastic advocate for independent training providers. She always makes the voice of ITPs heard loud and clear with decision-makers. I am delighted that her hard work and tenacity have been recognised in receiving this honour."

Sharon Blyfield, Head of Early Careers and Apprenticeships at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners said: “Naturally, I am absolutely delighted to be awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours. It is incredibly humbling. My thanks go to the many people who have supported me, and all those that I have worked with over the years in creating opportunities for the next generation of leaders. We continue to live and work in uncertain times. It is vital that we don’t lose sight of our aim to create inclusive and diverse workplaces, which champion emerging talent”

Brenda McLeish, Chief Executive of the Learning Curve Group said: “Receiving this honour is an incredible achievement, that also comes with great responsibility. I will continue to ensure that we give people across the country the opportunities to gain new skills and fulfil their potential. I would like to thank the hard work and dedication of the ‘purple people’ at Learning Curve Group who have helped make this happen.”


The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is a national membership body, proudly representing around 800 organisations that deliver training and vocational learning.

For further information or for interviews please contact Matt Strong, Communications Manager, AELP, on 0117 986 5389 or [email protected]


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