Wednesday 15th May 2024
9:30am - 3:30pm
Bridgewood Manor Hotel, Chatham

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We're thrilled to welcome you to the Construction, Engineering & Manufacturing Skills Conference 2024, led by the Kent & Medway Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) and funded by UK Government.

The LSIP program acts as a blueprint for addressing regional skills gaps and shortages. By placing employers at the forefront of local skills and education discussions, it ensures their needs are central to finding solutions.

Construction, Manufacturing & Engineering are key, priority sectors highlighted within the Kent & Medway LSIP and the Skills Conference will bring together sector experts from industry and education to work collaboratively on solutions to address the skills challenges in these priority sectors.

The day will create a platform for sharing insights, building connections, and advancing skills across construction, engineering, and manufacturing.

Expect to hear from regional experts on the current skills landscape and economic outlook, engage in thought-provoking roundtable discussions, and learn from local employers who have successfully partnered with education providers to future-proof their workforce and bridge the skills gap.

The conference provides a unique opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and connect with local education and training providers. Discover how collaboration can unlock long-term benefits, drive economic prosperity, and fuel future growth.

The Construction, Engineering & Manufacturing Skills Conference 2024 is a rallying cry for action. It serves as a platform to address, discuss, and identify solutions for both the immediate and long-term skills needs of the region.  Be a part of the conversation.


9:30am - Registration and networking

Join us for refreshments

10:00am - Welcome Address
Tudor Price, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

10:10am - Skills: A Regional Perspective

  • Lauren Edwards, Medway Council
  • Derek Murphy, Kent County Council
  • Lucy Druesne, Local Skills Improvement Plan
  • Celine McGeown, CITB
  • Kerri-Anne Mruk, Make UK

11:15am - Coffee Break

11:30am - Round Table Discussions

12:30pm - Lunch and Networking

1:30pm - The Education Landscape in Kent and Medway

  • Green Skills in Construction
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Apprenticeships

2:00pm - Successful Employer Engagement: Panel Q&A

  • Gary Allen, Wire Belt
  • James Simpson, Knauf UK
  • Kent Further Education
  • Supported Internships

2:50pm - Summary and Reflections of the Day; Call to Action

3:00pm - 3:30pm - Event Close and Networking


Tudor Price

Chief Executive, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

A skilled business leader within both the private and public sector. Proven operational and contract delivery experience with broad commercial expertise in all corporate functions. Experienced Chairperson and facilitator at national and regional level representing cross sector engagement.

Specialities: Leadership, Presentation & communication, Committee work, Bid writing, Economic Development
Relationship management, Operational design & delivery, Contract performance and delivery.

Cabinet Member for Economic and Social Regeneration & Inward Investment, Medway Council

Lauren Edwards is the Cabinet Member for Economic and Social Regeneration and Inward investment in the Labour and Co-operative administration on Medway Council elected in May 2023. She is also a councillor for Rochester East and Warren Wood ward and was first elected in 2021.

In her Cabinet role, she is responsible for regenerating the Medway towns, supporting local businesses, labour market planning and strategic skills development, and inward investment. She also sits on the boards of outside bodies focused on regional economic regeneration, such as the Kent and Medway Business Fund, the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership, and the Kent and Medway Employment Taskforce.

Her academic background is in international relations and social sciences, and she holds a Master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a former manager at the Bank of England, responsible for regulating large financial companies. She has also worked for MPs in Parliament, at HM Treasury, and for a trade union.

In mid-2023 Lauren became the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Rochester and Strood at the next General Election.

Lauren Edwards

Derek Murphy

Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Kent County Council

Derek was born in Folkestone in March 1958 and is married to Alison where they are currently living in Walmer.

His education was at St Edmunds RC Secondary School Dover, and studied at the University of Kent at Canterbury (MBA in 1997).

Derek retired in 2015 (after 30 years) from British Telecommunications Plc as a Senior Manager Global Programmes.

Commissioned Royal Military Academy Sandhurst 1985, Officer Territorial Army(V) Royal Signals. In 2015, Derek was elected to Dover District Council and in 2017, he was additionally elected to Kent County Council and was successfully re-elected to DDC in May 2019, and to KCC in May 2021.

As well as representing Walmer & Deal, Derek holds the position as Cabinet Member for Economic Development for Kent at Kent County Council.

Chief Contracts and Policy Officer, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

Lucy is the Chief Contracts and Policy Officer and the Kent & Medway Locals Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) strategic lead at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. The Kent & Medway LSIP works with employers and employer representative groups to identify the local skills needs and solutions to address them in our key sectors, in collaboration with the local education providers. 

Lucy grew up in France and came to the UK to work on a European project for Kent Invicta Chamber after which she moved to roles in Higher Education and has spent the last 20 years at the interface of education and business in her roles, in particular as Deputy Director of Innovation at the University of Kent and as Manager of GOETEC, a partnership of Kent & Medway Higher and Further Education and public sector organisations.

Lucy Druesne

Celine McGeown

Customer Engagement Manager, CITB

Celine is the Customer Engagement Manager for CITB in Southeast covering Kent, Sussex, and Essex.

She works at a local and regional level with major project groups, key stakeholders, and construction employers to ensure the industry has the skills it needs.

She has worked in construction since 2006, starting in Further Education. Achievements include setting up a construction training centre and successfully managing apprenticeship provision. She joined CITB in 2018 and her current focus is to support major projects in the region to access grants, funding and support to attract, train and retain talent in the construction industry.

Training Lead, South - Knauf UK

Jim is the Training Lead for the southern region at Knauf UK. As part of his role, he is dedicated to delivering top tier training sessions focusing on the proficient utilization of their products and systems within the construction sector.  Their comprehensive services cater to a wide range of professionals within the industry, including: site managers, architects and contractors.

While prioritising on-site training, they also have a strong commitment to nurturing the emerging generation, equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skill sets for a successful future in construction.

Jim’s role involves providing practical training sessions, either conducted directly on-site, within schools and colleges, or hosted at their dedicated Training Facility located in Sittingbourne. These sessions encompass airless plastering courses, hands-on tape and jointing and constructing partitions.

In his spare time Jim enjoys painting, primarily animal portraits and enhancing the local community with public art for all to enjoy.

James Simpson

Gary Allen

Director, Wire Belt Company Ltd

Wire Belt is a metal conveyor belt and conveyor manufacturing company founded in 1962 based in Sittingbourne.  Gary is passionate about working with local educational providers to promote apprenticeships in the workplace and offering hands on work experience to young students from the local community.

Wire Belt has been successfully recruiting apprentices since 1978 and continues its commitment to young people and apprenticeships today. The company prides itself on developing and nurturing the next generation of talent for the future. This commitment was rewarded in 2016, when Wire Belt won The Kent Excellence in Business ‘Apprenticeship of the Year Award.’

Gary’s hobbies and interests outside of the workplace include a passion for high board diving he is a trained Level 2 Coach, coaching both children & adults. It is also quite likely you will catch Gary at The Valley, watching his beloved Charlton Athletic on a Saturday afternoon!


Bridgewood Manor Hotel and Spa is a charming four-star hotel near Rochester.

The hotel is the perfect destination for guests which has amazing conference facilities.

Bridgewood Manor
Walderslade Woods, Blue Bell Hill, Chatham, ME5 9AX

Bridgewood Manor


Funded By UK Government
Kent County Council
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
Medway Council
Make UK