Apprentice Council

Our work is led by our amazing Council of current and recent apprentices. They bring a wealth of personal experience and knowledge to guide decisions about the Association’s strategy and focus.

Click on a member of the Council below to find out more about them.

Adelaja Aladejobi

L3 Rail Engineering, Network Rail

My name is Adelaja Aladejobi (Ade). I have MSc, BSc in Logistics and supply chain management and Economic statistic. I have an acumen of various industry for over 15 years industrial experience. After a career change, I decided to join Network Rail on apprenticeship Level 3 Rail Engineering because I believe university won’t give me the technical skills, behaviour and knowledge required to achieve my goals as a railway maintenance technician engineer. It was a major mind opener and a career path I will always encourage others to follows. 

Andrew Bolt

L6 Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprentice, Science and Technology Facilities Council

My name is Andrew Bolt. I am currently working towards my BSc in Digital and Technology Solutions, specializing in Software Engineering. Previously, I attained a Foundation Degree with Distinction, also in Software Engineering.

After leaving sixth form, I wanted to study mathematics at university. However, I was drawn to apprenticeships as I discovered that I learn very effectively when I am able to apply my work immediately and meaningfully to the wider world. This aspect, combined with a high-quality university education, drew me into my apprenticeship.

My journey as an apprentice has not been without challenges. Despite starting my apprenticeship journey in 2016, I am working to finish in 2024. I applied for the Council in the hope of making a difference to the quality of others’ apprenticeships, so that the difficulties I faced are not repeated.

I am a keen advocate for the end-to-end delivery of high-quality degree apprentices. To this end, I have reached out to local schools, and have begun the work in engaging with the wider community.

Andrew Cooper

L4 Assessor Coach, Lifetime Training

Andrew is a Hospitality Management Learning Coach at Lifetime Training, supporting and developing his own caseload of hospitality apprentices across level 2, 3 and 4 apprenticeships standards, including front of house and back of house pathways. 

Before this, Andrew spent seven years climbing the ladder of opportunity in the hospitality sector from a part-time cleaner to a full-time general manager, having completed the level 3 hospitality supervisor, and then level 4 hospitality manager apprenticeships.

An AoA Council Member and Northwest AAN board member, Andrew has a strong passion for championing apprenticeships and supporting apprentices.

Outside of work, Andrew enjoys the culinary arts, travelling, spending time with his nephew, and looking after his mental health and physical wellbeing as a focus for a happy life.

Bilaal Khan

L4 Project Management, Via East Midlands

Bilaal started medical school but concluded that Medicine wasn’t for him. Deciding to volunteer and work in the third sector, the skills he developed during this year at a food bank, a clothes bank, two non-profits, and a charity where he ran a branch, led to his successful application at Via, a highways and civil engineering company owned by Nottinghamshire County Council. Here, in the public and private sector, he upholds the values that drove his third sector experiences within his projects, whilst applying his analytical approach to problem-solving.

Bilaal is also a Mental Health First Aider and led the relaunch of Via’s mental health initiatives. His current main project is implementing drones and he has a specific remit for empowering colleagues across the company to initiate change for the better through a structured staff suggestion scheme. Speaking to parliamentarians during his 11th week as an apprentice, Bilaal identified challenges that aspiring apprentices face and aims to tackle this with AoA. Bilaal enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee in his free time having improved his throw during the pandemic.

Zara Khan

L4 Project Management Apprentice, Walsall Council

Zara left school at 18 and went on to do work experience at Walsall Council where she was offered the chance to stay on and do a L3 Business Admin apprenticeship. After completing that, she moved on to her current L4 Project Management apprenticeship. She is the first person in her family to do an apprenticeship, so she knows how it feels to choose a different path rather than go to university. She was elected Chair of her local youth group, the Youth of Walsall, and led an award-winning knife awareness campaign, ‘Real Knives, Real Lives’ and was also a Senior Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Champion for a charity called Street Teams. 

She is currently a Senior Trustee and Risk Committee Chair for the British Youth Council, Black Country Area Lead for the West Midlands Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and a Referral Order Panel Member for Walsall Council’s Youth Justice Team. When she’s not working or volunteering, she can be found tucked away in a corner reading a good book!

Jasmine King

L6 Housing Policy and Practice Degree Apprentice, Flagship Group

Jasmine didn’t receive much information about apprenticeships when she was at school but decided it was the right path for her as it allowed her to gain hands-on experience in the workplace while gaining a degree. She is a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and inspiring others to undertake an apprenticeship. As a sub-regional chair for the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, she has spoken about apprenticeships at a number of careers events and recorded multiple podcasts. Jasmine enjoys socialising with her friends and bottomless brunching at the weekends, as well as long dog walks with her cockapoo.

Arvinda Lalli

L6 Chartered Business Management, The Scouts Association

Arvinda knew little about apprenticeships before embarking on a L6 degree apprenticeship in Chartered Business Management. As part of his journey he has been involved with a number of departments. Coming into his final year, Arvinda has written blogs about his apprenticeship journey and was featured as part of a recruitment video for The Scouts Association. He has grown incredibly passionate for the apprenticeship route and believes it offers a practical pathway into the working world.  Outside of work, Arvinda loves to learn something new. Some of his hobbies include; reading history, keeping physically active and spending time in nature.

Hammad Lateef
Council Chair

L2 Supply Chain Warehouse Operative, Amazon UK

I look forward to working with the Council and local
communities to help offer some of the social elements often missing from apprenticeship programmes and provide additional professional development opportunities and career advice. 

I was an Authorised Altendorf Service Technician in my past career, always in ‘go’ mode. As a Ney engineer, I sometimes developed the capacity to say ‘stop’ and take a step back, allowing me to see more than just the problem in front of me, which I believe helped keep my business going for 17 years. I hope that I will be able to share my belief in the values of curiosity, openness, restlessness, and excellence as I look forward to furthering my education to help everyone’s future, continuing my journey, and working with people across the country. As an Amazon member of staff and apprentice, IET volunteer member, Bedford College volunteer Technician Assistant and now AoA Council member, I expect to find the gateway to the future I have dreamed of in a world that continues to adapt to
ever-changing circumstances. I urge all to join apprenticeships as they are a brilliant opportunity for all brands, employers, and the UK’s communities.–
‘Work hard. Have fun. Make history and be a legend.’

Ben Lawton
Council Vice Chair

Level 4 Software Developer, Colchester Teacher Training Consortium

I always knew I wanted to earn while I learn in which field I was not sure. However, I knew I did have a passion for IT and fixing things!

I have a strong passion for showing newly joined apprentices my experiences of my apprenticeship, as well as showing the day to day life of what it’s like to step straight into work after school!

In my spare time I do really enjoy going out with my mates and socializing, especially escape rooms! I really do like them, they are very interesting and are a great brain teaser!

I do think AoA is a great tool for apprentices, to not only connect but the platform also offers a great insight into shared experiences of what people have gone through during their time as an apprentice!

Charity Lockie

L7 Solicitor Degree Apprentice, Weightmans

Ironically, I owe a lot to the pandemic – it pushed me into a gap year that gave me plenty of time to research and think about my career. Despite being branded as destined to just go to University, I have always had a special affinity for degree apprenticeships, as they simply provide opportunities and maximise learning in ways that other routes do not. For this reason, I am passionate about the promotion and accessibility of apprenticeships, as well as dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding them. I strongly believe that the work of the Association of Apprentices to plug the gap in the social side of our route to strengthen the existing network and assemble our ideas is invaluable.


Furthermore, I am an ambassador for Liverpool City Region ‘Be More’, overseen by the North-West Apprentice Ambassador Network, and a Diversity and Inclusion champion at my firm. Aside from work, University, and other commitments, you will most likely find me out for dinner with friends or shopping at Zara. 

Emma Nolan

L6 Software Engineering Apprentice, Thales

When she finished college, Emma wanted to gain workplace experience immediately, so an apprenticeship suited her perfectly.  She enjoys the many opportunities the apprenticeship has given her and looks forward to what’s to come as she feels her apprenticeship could lead her into a number of routes in the future. 

She is a Greater Manchester Apprentice Ambassador and part of the YAAN. She is also a Digital Her role model for Manchester Digital, encouraging young women into digital careers. In her free time, Emma scrapbooks to wind down and plays a variety of games, sometimes with friends and family. It’s reported that her favourite is The Sims!

Dhimple Patel

Level 6 Register Nurse Degree Apprentice, Great Ormond Street Hospital

My name is Dhimple and I am a Register Nurse Degree Apprentice (Child Branch – 4 year program) with BPP University. I have worked a Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children for 14 years with most of my time specialising cross the Cardiology services. I currently work as Ventricular Assist Device (VAD/mechanical heart) Specialist Senior Associate Carer. I am currently a second-year apprentice about to start my sixth ward placement on the cancer and leukaemia ward for children at GOSH.

My active roles as a Diversity Ambassador, Apprenticeship Champion and Student Voice for the School of Nursing at BPP all allow me to be an advocate for my peers and work closely with program leaders to improve learner experience. I regularly partake in numerous focus groups/boards such as the Education & Standards Committee and Students’ Association Board of Governors to improve the apprenticeship experience as part of my ambassador duties at BPP University. I’m also the President & Founder of BPP Nursing Society London. As a passionate and committed individual this apprenticeship has given me a chance to achieve my goal of becoming a paediatric nurse at GOSH. I am an enthusiastic learner and the apprenticeship is a great opportunity for me to learn new skills and develop further on my existing skill set and deep-rooted passion for nursing. I strive to make a positive difference in all that I apply myself to.

Simon Phipp

L6 Chartered Management Degree Apprentice, HomeServe

Simon went down the traditional route of O and A Levels, then a BSc in Mathematics in the 80s. Due to the economic position at the time, Simon struggled to find work and volunteered on an archaeological dig for several years, eventually getting an IT job.

Having progressed through being a Night Operative, Programmer, Analyst Programmer, Senior Analyst Programmer, Development Team Leader and Senior Development Team Leader, Simon had the chance to enrol on a Level 5 Operational Department Manager Apprenticeship, using HomeServe’s Apprenticeship Levy. This enabled Simon to manage a complex and demanding set of projects at HomeServe. 

Simon is of the firm belief that the Apprenticeship was the main reason why he coped with the workload. Simon wanted to continue being involved in Apprenticeships after he had finished, and enrolled on a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship. Simon has recently been promoted to Development Manager, as a direct result of completing his Apprenticeship. 

Simon’s Manager was an Apprentice, and Simon has managed four apprentices, with the final two looking to complete their apprenticeships in the next few months. Simon would like to take on two new Apprentices later this year. So, Apprenticeships are really important to HomeServe, and to Simon.

In his spare time, Simon plays Role-playing Games, and has written several books. Don’t confuse Simon with the Oxford Don of the same name, as Simon knows nothing about the other Simon’s subject. A lifelong fan of Fantasy and SciFi, Simon regularly binges such programmes on streaming sites. He speaks some Russian and would love to go back, on vacation, once the current situation has stabilised. 

Robert Rowe

Level 6 Business Management Degree Apprentice, Kantar

Hey there, I’m Robert, a 20-year-old business management degree apprentice. After completing my A-Levels, I found myself standing at the crossroads of my future.


Choosing an apprenticeship wasn’t just about ticking boxes; it was a deliberate choice driven by my desire to gain real-world experience while also minimizing the financial burden of pursuing higher education. London became my bustling playground where I live and work, constantly inspired by the city’s energy and opportunities.


I am currently a degree apprentice at Kantar, where I get to put my knowledge into practice while simultaneously pursuing a higher degree. Advocating for apprenticeships has become a natural extension of my journey. I’ve experienced first-hand the immense value they bring in building a strong foundation of skills and expertise.


Beyond my professional pursuits, I indulge in a variety of hobbies. Videography is my creative outlet, allowing me to capture moments and tell stories through the lens. When I’m not immersed in the world of visuals, you’ll find me backstage operating sound and lighting equipment. And then, there’s astronomy – gazing at the universe through telescopes never fails to amaze me!

James Stephenson

L3 Digital Technologies Solutions Professional (Level 6) (Integrated Degree), BT

Currently a Degree Apprentice @ BT Business, within Technical & Service Design as a Network Designer
 Advocating for apprenticeships nationally as an Apprentice Ambassador with the Department for Education.

Formerly contributing to over 10+ million play sessions, including branded-experiences on the Roblox Platform as a contracted gameplay engineer, while spending time advocating for developer education, and using my time to teach what I’d learnt to aspiring game-developers as part of the Creator Events Program @ Roblox.

Alona Thomas

L6 Software Engineering Degree Apprentice, BT

I am currently coming to the end of my software engineering apprenticeship at BT. I want to share what I have learned. As well as be a voice for all apprentices on their journey.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the Association of Apprentices (AoA) as a Council Member. The AoA represents a community that aligns perfectly with my passion for apprenticeships and my desire to make a positive impact on the lives of fellow apprentices.

As a Council Member, I’ll advocate for apprenticeships, foster collaboration, and offer guidance to fellow apprentices. Together, we’ll shape a vibrant and inclusive environment that unlocks the full potential of apprentices. I’m excited to contribute, learn, and inspire others within the AoA, igniting a new era of apprenticeship excellence.

Jan Richardson-Wilde

CEO, Occupational Awards Limited

Jan is the CEO of Occupational Awards Limited, a Director of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and an FE College Governor. She has over 35 years’ experience in the education sector in strategic and operational management of training programmes with colleges, private training providers, local authorities the voluntary sector and not for profit organisations. Jan has previously been a board member of the Learning and Skills Council, chair of the North Yorkshire Training Provider network and Vice-Chair of Yorkshire Coast College and a Governor of the Grimsby Institute for Further and Higher Education. She has extensive experience of education policy, apprenticeships, qualification, and curriculum development as well as business improvement.

Jan joined OAL in 2019, a leading non-profit industry-focused Awarding and End-Point Assessment Organisation, supporting a wide range of employers and of key stakeholders to succeed and surpass expectations. Jan is committed to continuous improvement and enthusiastic about improving the effectiveness, impact and quality of apprenticeships, education, and training in the UK and internationally. She has a wide range of experience of working in a collaborative context with employers and training providers to develop End Point Assessment, apprenticeships, and a wide range of vocational programmes.

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