A successful Sunderland business owner has been appointed as one of two new vice chairs at the region’s largest college group.
Louise Bradford, owner and MD at top regional communications consultancy Creo Comms, has accepted the role of vice chair at Education Partnership North East (EPNE), which incorporates Sunderland College, Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form.
Two vice chairs have been appointed – Louise has been asked to focus on the college group south of the Tyne, while Professor Alison Shaw, Professor of Practice for Inclusive Education at Newcastle University, has been asked to concentrate on the group’s campuses north of the Tyne.
Louise attended Sunderland College before graduating from the University of Sunderland with a degree in PR. She set up Creo Comms, which provides strategic PR and communications advice for local, regional and national companies and organisations, in 2014.
She first joined the Sunderland College board as a governor in 2015, and stepped back from responsibilities to carry out some delivery work for the organisation, before re-joining in 2019.
“I’m thrilled with my new role. I am really passionate about the role education and, in particular, further education, can play in social mobility and its power to transform the lives of learners, both young and old,” said Louise.
“Education can be totally transformational to individuals, communities, cities and economies. I was really lucky to have parents who encouraged me and my sisters to carry on with our education after school – to go to college, then on to university. It changed our lives.
“Our ambition at EPNE is to give everyone who wants it the best chance to gain high-value employment. There is so much happening in Sunderland right now – the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), the Riverside Sunderland development, the wider regeneration of the city centre and the proposal for huge new film and TV studios on the banks of the Wear. We want to give people the skills and training they’ll need to find employment at these new and exciting opportunities and enable them to play an active role in Sunderland’s transformation.
“Our collaborative work on the city’s new Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) is a perfect example of what we can achieve. This centre of excellence, including modern methods and retrofit, is a joint project between ourselves, Sunderland City Council and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education. When our ambitions are aligned to those of the areas we serve and their businesses, we can create more and better opportunities for people in the North East.”
HICSA is a world-class £20m education centre which will be delivered by Sunderland College in partnership with Sunderland City Council and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education. A cutting-edge training facility that will see Sunderland people trained to build and upgrade the city’s homes locally, HICSA is set to become one of the region’s leading facilities for modern construction methods offset by low carbon emissions and a place for renewable energy and smart technologies to lead the UK’s drive to a greener future.
Louise’s role as joint vice chair, isn’t her first senior role on the EPNE board. Last year she was tasked with chairing a new English and Maths Committee, set up to oversee acceleration of performance in those subjects.
“It’s been fascinating work and the college is doing some innovative work in the delivery of English and maths. In practical terms, it’s possible that maths GCSE would help young people find work at IAMP, or that an English qualification could help with a career at the proposed Crown Works Studios or the hundreds of jobs that are being created in the offices at Riverside Sunderland.
“Sunderland College was launched 60 years ago to train people to work in the Wear shipyards, so there’s a parallel with us training people for these new jobs, many of which will help breathe new life into city’s riverbanks. And that’s our role at Sunderland College – to train people and upskill them for existing and future jobs.
“We’re uniquely placed to provide the skills needed for Wearside and, through EPNE, the wider North East. We have considerable expertise in priority areas identified by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) – areas such as green energy, engineering, advanced manufacturing, health and social sciences and technology. And we’re very much part of the South of Tyne Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) being delivered by the North East Automotive Alliance and working to provide a resilient and responsive supply of skills needed to drive economic success in the region.
“We understand the regional picture of skills and training, but we’re also fully in tune with the specific local needs in Sunderland. I think being the owner of an SME gives insight into the needs of the local economy, as does Creo’s work with clients in the city. Providing the very best in skills, training and retraining are vital to the prosperity of the city and our region.
“And we’re focused on doing exactly that – working with employers and stakeholders to identify skills needs for now and in the future, and then meeting those needs through our outstanding provision.
“As vice chair at EPNE I also see my role in ensuring the board culture, and that of the college, is what it should be – we have a culture which always puts the needs of students and the city first; an open and inclusive culture where governors feel empowered and encouraged to ask questions; and a culture where our ambition matches that of our senior leadership team, so inspirationally led by CEO Ellen Thinnesen.”
James Stuart, Chair of EPNE, said: “I’d like to warmly congratulate Louise on her new role on the board. She is very well known and respected within the Sunderland business community, and her network of contacts; her business acumen; her ambition for our students, and her passion to improve social mobility are already assets on our board. Her appointment adds even further depth to our governance.”
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We are the College of the Year.
(*Top college nationally for BTECs, Pearson 2019)
100% of our HND and HNC students progressed to employment or further study.
(*Destination data, academic year 2016/17, HNC 19+)
We have recently invested £50 million in our facilities.