Sian Wilson, Executive Director for Customer and Commercial Strategy at NCFE with Mike Smith OBE, Chair of The Northern Skills Network.

@NCFE and NSN @SkillsNorthern announce strategic partnership

The not-for-profit organisation, which comprises the development and certification of technical qualifications, end-point assessment provision for apprenticeships, and a range of e-learning and assessment solutions, will be working collaboratively with NSN to help increase the productivity, prosperity and social mobility of the north by increasing the skill levels of both young people entering work for the first time, and existing employees within the workforce.

The partnership, which was announced today at NSN’s official network launch event at the Crowne Plaza, Leeds, will also see senior members of staff from NCFE take up strategic roles on the NSN board, working together to help shape the future of the organisation as it continues to gather momentum.

Sian Wilson, Executive Director for Customer and Commercial Strategy at NCFE, commented:

“We are incredibly excited about our new strategic partnership with The Northern Skills Network.

“There is undeniable synergy between NCFE’s own Core Purpose to ‘Promote and Advance Learning’ and the work that The Northern Skills Network is planning to do to develop the hard to reach in order to support social mobility.

“By working together, we can harness each other’s resources to develop a shared understanding of the ever-changing skills landscape and become the ‘go to’ organisation for insights and advice on the skills and education issues affecting the north, representing the wants and needs of the education sector as a whole within a national context.”

NSN is a not-for-profit organisation which represents over 300 educational institutions and providers, including FE colleges, Universities, independent training providers, local authorities and third sector organisations.

Aligned with and supportive of the Northern Powerhouse agenda, NSN aims to provide a single voice for skills across the North of England and champion the importance of vocational and technical education, including apprenticeships, to employers, key stakeholders and government.

Mike Smith OBE, Chair of The Northern Skills Network, commented:

“The NSN Board is absolutely delighted to have NCFE as its first strategic partner. NCFE is a long established and highly regarded education services provider, based here in the north, which has worked for many years with NSN’s network members.

“Working together we aim to help promote the value of technical and vocational skills to employers and other stakeholders, as well as support learners of all ages to achieve the qualifications they need to advance their chosen careers and increase their social mobility.”


Across the North of England, the challenges and opportunities facing the FE and skills arena are significant. The strategic partnership between NSN and NCFE will enable the organisations to work together on collaborative and innovative projects, research, business development opportunities and policy implementation to support, enhance and improve the skills of the workforce which will in turn, impact on the region’s productivity and growth. 

The partnership will also strengthen both organisation’s individual vision and priorities, enabling a strong alliance across the North of England.

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