The chair of IfATE’s digital route panel has been recognised on the King’s first official birthday honours list.

Mark McClennon, who is also chief information officer at Burberry, has been awarded an MBE for services to further education and apprenticeships.

Mark assumed his role as chair in January 2019, seeing it as an opportunity to help define the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed by the next generation of digital apprentices and learners.

His employer-led panel of employers is responsible for approving and updating digital apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

They oversee dozens of digital apprenticeships and were at the forefront with approving the first wave of T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications, which had a strong digital focus, from 2020 and 2022 respectively.

Mark has also played a leading role with the development of IfATE’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which is helping to make all skills training more inclusive, along with our Digital Framework which is used to promote digital content in apprenticeships and technical qualifications across all sectors.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE (the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education), said: “I would like to say huge congratulations to Mark. Apprenticeships and technical qualifications are now all developed and approved by fantastic employers who give up their precious time to make sure they truly meet the economy’s skills needs and work for businesses and learners.
“Mark is a phenomenal example of this, having led our digital route panel since 2019 and played a pioneering role with the development of skills training for his sector. We appreciate everything he has done for digital skills training and are delighted he has been given this special recognition.
"More than 1,000 recipients have been awarded for their outstanding contributions across all sectors and parts of the UK, recognising a “renewed focus on those who have had a profoundly positive impact on how society faces up to the most challenging issues of the modern era”.

Mark is a passionate believer in the power of digital technology to inspire and connect people. During his time at Burberry, he has driven a broad global agenda across both digital and more traditional technologies to do just that.

Prior to joining the iconic fashion brand, Mark worked at consumer goods giant Unilever for 29 years. In January 2007, he became CIO of Unilever’s North America division and, from January 2011, led the global digital transformation of all of Unilever's consumer-facing technology.

Reflecting on his MBE, Mark said: “I feel lucky to have had the chance to play a part in the brilliant work that IFATE does - and none of it would be possible without the team at the Institute and my colleagues on the digital panel”

This good news follows three people with close links to IfATE being recognised in the most recent new year’s honours list.

Robin Millar, a world famous music producer who began his career as a music technology apprentice at the age of 24, was made a knight for his services to music, people with disabilities, young people and to charity.

Sir Robin is a serving IfATE board member, and also chair of the board of trustees at Scope, the disability equality charity.

Beverly Robinson, who also serves as an IfATE board member alongside her role as principal and chief executive of Blackpool and The Fylde College, was awarded a CBE for services to further education during a career in colleges spanning over 25 years.

Bhavena Patel, a senior relationship manager at IfATE, was awarded an MBE to recognise her services to further education, working with employers to develop apprenticeships in a whole range of different areas, most recently the health sector.