Collaboration is key for college boss

October 3, 2018

North East Times looks at the tenure of Judith Doyle, principal and CEO of Gateshead College, through the eyes of high-profile business leaders, organisations and students who have all benefited from her focus and commitment to do the best for her students and the region

 Judith Doyle has now spent more than five years as principal and CEO of Gateshead College. In that time, she has delivered significant growth in the college’s business, overseen the college’s transformation into an organisation rated outstanding by Ofsted, and become a key influence on regional and national skills policy.

Born in the North East and a resident of Low Fell in Gateshead, Judith first joined the college as a young graduate English teacher. Since then, she has progressed through the ranks, taking on senior roles including director of teaching and learning, assistant principal of quality and performance, and deputy principal, before assuming her current position, CEO, in August 2013.

A well-known and active figure in the North East business community, Judith is a Board member of NewcastleGateshead Initiative and was also appointed to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Business Growth Board in 2017. Judith is now a leading national figure in the FE Skills and Training sector. She was named FE Leader of the Year at the National TES Awards in 2016 and her success culminated in her being awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year 2018 Honours list for her contribution to education and skills in the North East.

Here are just some of the individuals and organisations to have benefitted from Judith’s hard work and commitment to the region:

 James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce   

“Under Judith’s leadership, Gateshead College has played a pivotal role in supporting North East businesses to adapt to the changing technical education landscape. The college has an outstanding reputation among members as a provider of apprentices and workplace training, and an exemplar in the provision of careers advice to young people.

“Judith has steered the college through a challenging period for further education and demonstrated the ability to adapt and thrive when faced with national changes to funding and training policy. She has motivated business leaders to engage with the apprenticeship reforms, creating fantastic career opportunities for young people and boosting productivity.

“Earlier this year, Judith spoke to Chamber members at our Technical Education Reform event, attended by senior representatives of the Department for Education. As one of the first providers in the region to offer T Levels, the college is leading the way in developing the technical skills required by firms in the North East. We are looking forward to working with Judith and the college to engage with member businesses and make the T Levels a success.

“She also represents the region at a national level as a member of the FE Commissioner’s Principals Reference Group and helps to ensure that the priorities for the North East are heard by ministers and decision-makers.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative

“NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) has worked in partnership with Gateshead College for many years in pursuit of our shared ambition to deliver economic growth for the region.

“For the past five years, I’ve worked closely with Judith who, as a proactive member of the NGI main Board, has provided me with unstinting support and advice, helping to shape NGI’s strategy and working with us on many key projects. Most recently, the college supported the delivery of the Great Exhibition of the North by helping to train more than 1000 volunteers and also worked with us on the bid to bring Channel 4 to the region.

“Under Judith’s leadership, the college has gone from strength to strength and I was delighted, both for the college and for Judith personally, when they were recognised as outstanding by Ofsted. This award recognised the scale of the college’s ambition and its contribution to the region; Judith has long championed the need to work in partnership with regional companies in key sectors, such as automotive, digital and creative industries. Identifying the skills required, developing the courses needed and attracting and supporting talented students to achieve their personal goals ensures employers have access to the skilled workforce they need for the future. I’m looking forward to working even more closely with Judith and her team in the coming years.”

Geoff Ford MBE, chairman at Ford Engineering 

“Judith’s philosophy is to work with key sectors to help them develop their workforce through industry-led vocational training programmes such as apprenticeships.Our sector has suffered from a long-term skills shortage that has generally hindered productivity and performance, so it’s vital that companies join forces with top education institutions to address this.

“Due to our academy traineeships with Gateshead College, which give young people the ideal preparation for an apprenticeship, we’ve managed to widen our skills base by recruiting several young apprentices with the talent and drive to help us take our business forward. Judith and her staff are careful to ensure that the training is tailored specifically to the needs of our company – and in doing so, this creates more value for our business.

“I’m proud that, together, we’re making a positive difference to the fortunes of our industry, which is badly in need of an influx of new skills. One of Judith’s key strengths as a respected business leader is to very carefully select the right people for the job and let them get on with it. This approach has worked to great effect in our fruitful relationship with the college, which clearly understands the needs of our business and the wider engineering sector.”

Helen Whitfield, chief operating officer at NBS

“As a sponsor of the innovative PlanBEE programme, NBS works alongside Gateshead College, hosting students on rotation within our business. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to gain wider experience from across various businesses, along with much-needed work-ready skills; it’s a great collaboration between businesses with the college playing a leading role.

“Gateshead College is very engaged with the business community and passionate about students learning and gaining the qualifications that are aligned with the skills needed. This culture is led from the top with the college team visible and present and at the table for key discussions. Nobody just turns up – they are present and engaged; I really like that.

“This great attitude comes from the top, the principal and her team. I first met Judith at a dinner she arranged for several local business leaders in a restaurant within Gateshead College. The students cooked fabulous food and gave unbelievable hospitality. Judith was really proud of them, showcasing their ability. She set the tone for how she viewed the college, her students’ capability and her pride. Judith did this with so much passion, humility and intent. I knew then our values were aligned, and she was someone I wanted to stay close to.

“I’ve watched Judith make her mark; she’s a brilliant connector and collaborator with local business. She’s also a local lass who has stayed true to her roots. I find this inspiring and infectious and I’m sure there is more to come.”

Mark Thompson, managing partner, Ryder Architecture

“Ryder Architecture has worked closely with Gateshead College and the PlanBEE (Built Environment Education) partners for the past three years to create a truly unique training programme that meets the complex and evolving needs of the construction industry. Judith’s support and contribution was an essential ingredient to achieve our vision and create a new way of recruiting and training young people for a career in the construction sector through a business-led collaborative apprenticeship.

“Judith’s dynamic and aspirational leadership style is reflected through the college’s ability to be responsive and agile to the demands of our PlanBEE partners and students. The successful relationship between business and education has delivered an award-winning programme with a national profile and has supported us in reinventing the way our industry finds and trains talent.”

Katie Meehan, beauty and lifestyle blogger, photographer and social media consultant

“I started my own digital business a couple of years ago, after gaining valuable support and insight on a business management course run at Gateshead College.

“I turned a beauty and lifestyle blogging hobby into an award-winning digital business and today my site attracts around 15,000 views per month, and I have more than 19,000 followers on Instagram.

“This attracts national brands and advertisers to work with me, allowing me to travel around the UK and Europe on campaigns. Much of this wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance of Gateshead College. Even today, I have a close relationship with people at the college. They continue to show an interest and try to involve me in things and I appreciate that this is down to the expectations Judith has – all her staff are working with the same goal of giving students the best chance in their careers, even when they leave college.

“The original course gave me invaluable practical skills I needed to understand how to start and run a business. Just as importantly, I got a huge amount of self-confidence from the support staff who encouraged me to get out there and network, also taking me to events like the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and paying for me to do a student blog.

“They’re a proactive college and helped me gain skills and confidence to start and succeed in business.”

Gateshead College

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