Leadership Team

Regional Chair

Nigel Fenn

Nigel is Head of People, Projects and Planning at Pennon Group and became Chair of SWAAN, the South-West Apprenticeships Ambassador Network, in 2013. He also heads up the Education Group for the South Devon University Technical College and sits on the Operations Board and the Independent Quality Board at EU Skills, the sector skills council for Utilities in the UK.

“At the heart of any great business are the people who work in it and as a company we are passionate about providing opportunities to young people. I am so proud to represent the South-West as Chair of the Network with our diverse membership of employer and young Ambassadors. Championing the apprenticeship ethos is part of our DNA and we strive to raise awareness, share good practice and engage with employers new to such an excellent vocational pathway.”

Vice Chairs

Chris Young

Chris joined EDF Energy and the Hinkley Point C project in 2016 and is now the Education and Skills Delivery Manager. Prior to that he worked for a number of years in Further Education, where his passion for apprenticeships and people development has its foundations. He is committed to continuing that as a member -and now as Vice Chair – of the South West Apprenticeships Ambassador Network.

“It’s extremely important to me that there is a collective effort to raise the profile of apprenticeships as well as the numerous range of opportunities and benefits they provide for individuals and businesses. The value that a quality apprenticeship brings to an organisation can sometimes be underestimated. At Hinkley Point C, we aim to facilitate 1,000 apprenticeships during construction. This is vital to the longer-term legacy of the project and is part of a holistic pipeline through which people can access the skills required to support both the HPC project and future Nuclear New Build programmes.”

Michelle Cole

Michelle is Group Community Engagement Manager with Midas Group. She is responsible for developing and championing the strategic and operational delivery of social value, incorporating Employment and Skills Plans, corporate and social responsibility activities, targeted recruitment and training, and community engagement. Apprenticeships are very much at the front and centre of the Midas ‘new entrant’ recruitment strategy and integral to upskilling our staff.

“I am proud to be Vice Chair of the SWAAN, having been a member for a number of years. I have a proven track record in identifying and (with support of others) delivering sustainable apprenticeship opportunities not only within Midas, but also through our supply chain. We ensure we go ‘the extra mile’ to effectively engage with suitable partners – training providers, peers and senior managers, and supply chain – providing insight, support and motivation to deliver an increased number of apprentice opportunities across our construction projects – I welcome the opportunity to support others, in any business sector, to do the same.”

Nicky Williams

Nicky is the Head of Skills at Business West, the largest Chamber of Commerce in England.

Simon Flenley

As Head of Apprenticeships at the University of the West of England, Simon Flenley promotes and supports apprenticeship staff, as well as the provision delivered to degree apprentices across the region.  As both a provider and employer of apprentices, the University has ambitious targets to drive forwards a firm commitment to the apprenticeships agenda, including activity around widening access and participation.

Alongside our experience of Higher Education programmes (particularly in vocational subject areas), we have been delivering apprenticeships in a number of key, priority sectors for a number of years. Meeting the needs of employers, we support apprenticeships across Health & Applied Sciences, Manufacturing, Construction, Digital and Engineering, as well as Management.  And as an employer of apprentices, we are continually growing our apprenticeship offer to new and existing staff, from levels 3 upwards.

Regional Coordinator

Debbie Passmore

As Regional Co-ordinator, Debbie provides support to the Chair and Leadership Team with:

  • Strategic Planning - ensuring the development and delivery of a regional plan for the network as agreed with the ESFA.
  • Quarterly Reporting – collecting Ambassador evidence to support the regional data and reporting quarterly to the ESFA.

The Coordinator is also responsible for care of the network –

  • Membership – Recruitment, care and retention of Ambassadors, as well as the secure management of the membership data.
  • Communication – Sharing apprenticeship news, best practice and information with the Ambassadors.
  • SW-YAAN – Working with the Regional SW-YAAN Chair and Comms Lead to maximise the number of Apprentice Ambassadors, schools engagement activities, and relevant social media content (@SouthWestYAAN ) to help inspire young people to consider an apprenticeship career path and support apprentices within the network.

And the Coordinator steers the network in outward-facing activities including -

  • Advocacy – Sharing case studies, role model initiatives and best practice to inspire others to employ apprentices.
  • Events – Organising and supporting virtual and in-person activities across the region including the quarterly Ambassador Meetings, Apprenticeship campaigns, National Apprenticeship Week and the SWAAN Regional Conference annually.

Social Media – overseeing LinkedIn (SWAAN) and Twitter (SWAAN_Coord) for Employers and Partners.