Skip to page content
This is a placeholder image

HEFCW Council Member Biography

Sarah John

Mrs Sarah John

Appointment: 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2020

Born in Bridgend Sarah started her working career as trainee Retail Manager at the age of 19 obtaining her first store management position by 20. At the age of 23 Sarah changed career moving into a Retail Trainer role for the, then ‘new’, NVQ programmes. Sarah progressed in work based learning from a trainer role to Head of Sales and Marketing for a Pan UK training provider by the age of 28.

In 2001, at the age of 30, Sarah and 2 colleagues established Lexicon as their own UK Training Provider acquiring apprenticeship contracts to support national employers. In 2003 Lexicon merged its training business with Acorn’s existing training arm to form Acorn Learning Solutions Ltd (ALS).

Since 2003 ALS has adapted to changes in the Work Based Learning (WBL) sector and Apprenticeship programmes across the UK and is now firmly established in Wales where expansion of Higher Apprenticeship programmes and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy have required ALS to grow sector delivery to respond to emerging needs of employers and the Regional Skills Partnership priorities.

In 2013 Sarah wanted to develop her knowledge of business practices further and commenced a part-time MBA at Cardiff University graduating in July 2015.

Sarah is a Director of Acorn Learning Solutions Ltd, part of the Acorn Group in the UK a leading Recruitment and Training Organisation; Acorn Learning Solutions is 1 of 19 contract holders to the Welsh Government for the delivery of WBL Programmes including Employability and Apprenticeships.

Sarah’s role at Acorn incorporates finance, operational delivery, bid management and development of innovative learning solutions for employers and learners linked to Welsh Government priorities.

Sarah is also Chair of the National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW), a body representing over 100 Apprenticeship and WBL providers; as part of this role Sarah also sits on the Wales Employment and Skills Board (WESB).

Having been involved in work-based learning for more than 20 years, Sarah has worked with many employers, agencies and stakeholders to deliver apprenticeship programmes from levels one to five. Acorn is currently the only independent WBL provider franchised to a Higher Education Institute for the delivery of a foundation degree.

Declared interests
Organisation in which interest existsNature of interest
1. Acorn Learning Solutions Ltd (ALS) – Apprenticeship Provider contracted to the Welsh Government for post 16 Work Based LearningDirector
2. Cardiff Metropolitan UniversityALS holds a franchise with Cardiff Met for the delivery of a Foundation Degree and I am the Programme Director. ALS also use the University to support on the delivery of some knowledge elements of Higher Apprenticeships
3. University of South WalesALS has a partnership arrangement with USW for the delivery of Higher Apprenticeships
4. Swansea UniversityALS delivers a Higher Apprenticeship in IT containing a Swansea University Foundation Degree in Computing
5. University of Wales Trinity Saint DavidALS is working with UWTSD on a Higher Apprenticeship in Informatics for NWIS and is planning to expand our partnership working to include Foundation Degrees for the IT Higher Apprenticeship
6. NTFW – A body representing all Apprenticeship and Work Based Learning Provision in WalesChair
7. Wales Employment and Skills BoardNTFW Representative
8. Coleg Y CymoeddALS has a partnership arrangement for the delivery of knowledge aspects of a variety of Level 3, 4 and 5 Apprenticeships
9. Bridgend CollegeALS has a partnership arrangement for the delivery of the HNC element of the IT Higher Apprenticeships
10. Coleg GwentALS use the college to deliver the knowledge element of AAT Apprenticeships
11. Open UniversityALS are scoping the use of OU resources to use in the delivery of IT Higher Apprenticeships

Council members

Skip to top of page or to page menu