From education to employment

Regional Development Led Forward by New Executive Tom Riordan

Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency (RDA) for Yorkshire and the Humber, have announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive to lead them into 2006.

The new Chief Executive, Mr. Tom Riordan, is the current Deputy Chief Executive and will take up the post in the early weeks of next year. He will succeed Martin Havenhand and in doing so will become the youngest Chief Executive of a RDA in the country, and indeed the youngest to hold this post in a RDA since the inception of the agencies in 1999.

About Tom Riordan

Mr. Riordan, 37, was born and educated in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. He studied at Trinity College, Oxford, and graduated in 1989 with a Modern History honours degree. He joined the Civil Services fast stream management scheme with the Department of the Environment in Whitehall. Through this period he moved through a number of jobs, specialising in environmental policy. He also represented the UK in negotiations at the United Nations on climate change and issues surrounding endangered species.

He studied for and gained a first class Masters in Business Administration degree from Imperial College, at the University of London, in 1997, before returning to Yorkshire to establish the RDA for the Government Office. As Executive Director of Strategy and Policy, he produced the first ever Regional Economic Strategy (RES) for Yorkshire and Humber.

He has since also been responsible for developing, monitoring and revising the RES, leading the national RDA input into the last three Budgets and two Spending Reviews. He has led the team liaising with the Regional Assembly and with their West Yorkshire partners. He has improved awareness of the regional economy and the issues affecting it through Yorkshire Futures and rolling out the regional brand Yorkshire Alive with Opportunity!

RDA and Education

Mr. Riordan sees this as an opportunity to drive forward with Yorkshire and the Humber’s economic and training issues. He said: “Im privileged and delighted to be appointed to such a great job in a great region. I believe Yorkshire Forward needs to build a new Team Yorkshire and Humber, uniting business, public and community leaders to deliver real improvements to our economy. I would like to thank all the people who have supported me and I look forward to working with them and others to make Yorkshire and Humber a world leader in economic development.”

One of the most important tasks of the RDAs today is to work closely with education and training partners to improve the skills training in their regions. The Government’s agenda is clear; skills in FE must be targeted towards bringing more people into employment. This extends from the changes to the 14 ““ 19 agenda in education all the way to improving skills provision for offenders and former offenders to lower the cost of crime and reduce the reoffending rate.

With Ken Livingstone set to try to wrest control for Adult Education in London into his hands, it may be that other RDAs across the nation are waiting to see how successful his bid is. Whatever happens, it seems certain that, as Chief Executive for a RDA including over 5 million people and 270,000 businesses, rivalling nations such as Ireland, Norway and Singapore, it is sure to be a busy time for Tom Riordan.

Jethro Marsh

What are the key issues for Mr. Riordan to tackle in Yorkshire FE? Tell us in the FE Blog

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