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Published: 5th June 2023

Meet the Team. Rachel Roby

Meet Rachel Roby, Strategic Apprenticeship Lead who supports Cogent Skills on technical education policy.
Rachel Roby
Strategic Apprenticeship Lead in the Membership and Strategy Team

What does your role involve?

I am the Strategic Apprenticeship Lead in the Membership and Strategy Team. I support Cogent Skills on technical education policy – helping employers and stakeholders understand the implications of policy in the real world, with a particular focus on the membership organisations in the Science Industry Partnership (SIP).

A big part of my role for the past two years has been working with trailblazer groups to update and design or redesign a range of standards within the engineering and manufacturing route. This has involved working with employers, providers, EPAOs and professional bodies. I also spend quite a bit of time in government meetings, driving home our employers’ messages about making changes across key policy areas in apprenticeships, T Levels and wider education.

What did you do before you joined Cogent Skills?

I’ve been involved in apprenticeships since I enrolled in my own first apprenticeship in Business Administration in 2001. I moved into delivery after a few years in industry in the early part of my career, having moved between different administrative and hospitality roles.

Between 2008 and 2020 I worked for a range of providers including FE colleges, work-based learning providers, and latterly an employer provider working my way up from assessor/tutor to Head of Apprenticeships.

I moved away from direct delivery at the beginning of 2020 to support a trade association set up an apprenticeship provision in the construction sector.

What does a typical day look like?

Two days are never the same. I can spend time running trailblazer meetings, where employers come together to share insights into a specific occupation, or having meetings with DfE working groups. The topic can be apprenticeship policy or providing employer feedback on T levels, for example.

I also spend time reading new policy ideas from government, think tanks and independent advisors –  and I also remain engaged with changes to wider apprenticeship standards, funding and Ofsted rules to keep our members informed.

I facilitate a number of groups so I spend time planning, designing content, and the post-meeting actions. So any given day is pretty varied!

What has been your most enjoyable experience at Cogent Skills?

I really enjoy working directly with our members for their consultancy days. I am a tutor at heart and love the opportunity to share what I know with people to help them navigate the complex landscape of technical education.

I’ve had a number of proud moments during my two years at Cogent Skills: publishing new standards we have written, publishing the Technical Skills Manifesto in Autumn 2022, and publishing the latest version of our Apprenticeship Survey earlier this year.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Realising that a lot of my job is dependent on other people, people who actually have day jobs for their own organisations. I think people who know me would also agree that various government ‘red-line’ comments really get my back up!

What are you looking forward to working on in the year ahead?

I am really looking forward to the day when the new Science Manufacturing Technician standard is approved for delivery and is live on the IfATE pages, along with the suite of new standards. This will be the end of two years of work with committed employers to update an important apprenticeship standard for the sector.

I am also really looking forward to seeing what comes out of party conference season – ideally a progressive new policy on skills. We live in hope!

How do you spend your time outside work?

Along with my husband, Chris, and daughter Lyla, we count down to school holidays when we can spend time together away. We love our holidays in Cornwall where we can have lazy beach days, along with half-term trips to London where we love exploring the city and showing Lyla new things.

We are a football-loving family so there is always a game on in our house and I am an avid podcast listener: my taste is very eclectic, from highly-charged politics podcasts where I can be caught shouting at or with the presenters to girly gossip podcasts where I cry with laughter (even on the trains!).

Future Ready

Cogent Skills is sector based, working with companies from across the Science and Technology Industries embracing Life Sciences, Industrial Sciences and Nuclear.
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