From education to employment

Ruth Devine receives MBE in honours list

Ruth Devine MBE with IfATE's Jennifer Coupland

MBE for award winning small businesswoman and apprenticeships pioneer

  • Award winning employer with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical and Education (IfATE) awarded MBE for supporting apprenticeships and technical education

An influential small businesswoman who has had a really big influence on apprenticeships has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honour’s list.

Ruth Devine is Managing Director of busy Milton Keynes-based SJD Associates, an SME electrical installation contractor.

She is also a highly valued IfATE route panel member, responsible for reviewing, advising on, and approving applications for government apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

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.

Ruth has since then, through the route panel, contributed to the rollout of and regular updates to more than 90 other apprenticeships, three T Levels and 20 Higher Technical Qualifications.

The entrepreneur has done this in support of sweeping reforms to apprenticeships, overseen by IfATE with backing from thousands of employers across England. Large and small businesses, like Ruth’s, now provide the insights and guidance that set the standards for all government apprenticeships and most technical qualifications. This employer-led approach has pushed up standards and made sure programmes match up to businesses’ true skills needs. It also gives learners confidence that they are being taught skills highly valued in the workplace, which will set them up for successful careers.

After learning she had been awarded an MBE for services to further education and apprenticeships, Ruth said: “It’s an incredible privilege to have been awarded an MBE and I am so pleased to have been able to support the reform and improvement of apprenticeships, T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications. It’s thanks to thousands of large and small businesses, like SJD, that standards have risen and skills training now better matches employers’ needs. 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.”

Jennifer Coupland, IfATE chief executive, said: “I would like to say a huge congratulations to Ruth for being made an MBE. 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.”

The MBE caps off an extremely successful year for Ruth, as she was also proud to receive the IfATE Apprenticeship Development Partner of the Year Award, on behalf of SJD, through the 2023 National Apprenticeship Awards announced in early December.

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