Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.58.07Gateshead College is further strengthening its links with the North East business community with a key appointment to its management team.

Ivan Jepson brings almost 25 years of industry and private sector experience to the role as business development director at the college.

Gateshead College was the only college in the last 12 months to be rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. One of the key reasons for this was the strong partnerships championed by the college principal with regional employers and business organisations like the North East Chamber of Commerce, the Entrepreneur’s Forum and the CBI. Ofsted also cited outstanding employability skills among learners, giving them the ‘employment edge’ and providing successful progression for students into jobs, apprenticeships and further study in the North East.

Ivan joins the college executive team from Northumbrian Water where he’s spent most of his working career in various roles from laboratory scientist to customer service to public affairs.

“It was a difficult decision to leave a great employer but Gateshead College offered a real challenge and opportunity to make a difference to both regional employers young people and those working or looking for work in our region,” explained Ivan.

“Gateshead College is keen to strengthen and extend its already great connections with business, highlighting its flexible approach and attitude,” he said. “My role is to help regional employers meet the skills challenges they face, helping provide them with young people with real employment edge.

“With plans underway for greater regional devolution, it’s never been more important that we take a lead on the skills agenda, working closely with both employers, the North East LEP, and the regional combined authority to navigate a path through these changes to ensure business can recruit skilled people for growth.

“I am a great believer in collaboration; trying to make meaningful links between FE, schools, universities and business, to ultimately create an improved regional economy.”

Gateshead College principal and CEO Judith Doyle said: “When we saw an opportunity to recruit, we recognised that Ivan, who has an understanding of the FE sector and the broader regional political landscape, could bring real value to the college and its management team.

“More importantly, we think Ivan’s close understanding of business and his considerable network of contacts will also be of invaluable benefit to employers we work with.”

Ivan Jepson, 46, of Hexham, started his career as a scientist working within AES, the analytical laboratory subsidiary of Northumbrian Water; he then progressed into management in various positions in customer service before moving into communications, becoming head of public affairs. He is married with two children.