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Karen Redhead, Principal and Chief Executive of Derwentside College in Consett, County Durham, has been appointed to the Board of the North East LEP.

Karen joins entrepreneur, Ammar Mirza CBE, as the Board’s newest members following the departure of Jon Vincent and Jeremy Middleton.

Karen said:

I’m delighted to be joining the Board at the North East LEP, particularly in my role as North East representative of the Association of Colleges.

I know first hand the positive impact Further Education colleges have in our region when it comes to preparing learners for the workplace and employment. The work we do aligns very well with the priorities of the North East LEP.

I’ll be acting on behalf of all ten Further Education colleges in my role as Board member to ensure we achieve the goals set our in the region’s strategic economic plan. I’m a passionate believe in collaboration and I’ve always been keen to ensure our curriculum offer supports regional and national priorities.

It’s a very exciting time to be joining the North East LEP Board, particularly as there is so much fantastic work being done to improve skills in the North East.

Having held senior positions in colleges across the region, including three years in her current role as Principal and Chief Executive at Derwentside College, Karen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Further Education sector.

A software engineering graduate with a Masters Degree in Strategy and Resource Management, Karen has held Deputy Principal roles at Stockton Riverside College, Derwentside College and was Vice Principal at South Tyneside College.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Chair, said:

Addressing the skills agenda in the North East is a key part of our strategic economic plan. I have no doubt, thanks to Karen’s skills and experience in this area, that she will play an important role in helping to shape and deliver this work.

“We’re already delivering innovative work in schools and colleges across the North East through the Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot. With the support of Karen and the rest of the Board, our ambition is to build a workforce in the North East that is equipped with the skills we need to grow our economy and create more and better jobs.

Derwentside College is the largest provider of apprenticeships in the North East and one of the largest in the country. Additionally, it is the largest regional provider of higher apprenticeships. It supports its learners, both school leavers and adults, to progress into sustained employment and build successful careers.

Further Education colleges across the North East provide high quality technical and professional education and training for young people, adults and employers. They prepare students and apprentices with valuable qualifications and skills for the workplace enhancing life chances, enabling social mobility and improving productivity.

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Dr Alan Lowdon, Chair, North East LEP Innovation Board