From education to employment

Education Training Collective announces new Chair of the Board

Stuart Blackett, appointed chair of the Etc. governing board

The Education Training Collective (Etc.) today announced that Stuart Blackett will be taking the reins as the college group’s Chairman of the Board.

The chief financial officer at Railpen will be joined by Dot Smith, as the newly appointed Vice Chair.

Together the pair are looking forward to the opportunities ahead and leading the group to further success.  Stuart said: “It is an exciting time to be a part of the college group, and to be here in the Tees Valley where there is so much potential.”

A financial and strategic leader with a passion for the area and a strong belief in the value of education, dad-of-two Stuart is looking forward to the job ahead.

Surrounded by what he describes as “a really great board of governors”, and following in the footsteps of current chairman, Mark White OBE DL, Stuart said: “Etc. is an important organisation with a great responsibility. We are building on a strong foundation and that’s a great time to do anything.”

With its roots in Teesside, the Education Training Collective is made up of Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy and Tees Valley Catering.

Inspired from the moment he first walked through the door, Stuart said: “To have the opportunity to learn in a college like ours must be fantastic.  When I look back to my own school days and those draughty prefab classrooms, it is like a different world, and I am proud to now be a part of it.”

A dad of two boys, 13 and 11, Stuart said his focus in recent years has increasingly sharpened on education and the opportunities available to young people.  As a part of the college group’s governing board, that has rapidly become a priority.

He said: “It’s not only about the 16 to 21-year-olds.  There are people with so many diverse skills and backgrounds, of all ages, from different walks of life. We need to provide opportunities for as many of those people as we can, and we have an incredible platform here to achieve that.”

Working with Railpen for 21 years, a governor at Red House School, and former vice chairman of the Railway Housing Association in Darlington, Stuart said: “Every organisation I have worked for or with has a strong purpose. Here at the Etc. we are providing people with opportunities, perhaps the most important being a chance to change their life.”

And he believes there’s much more to look forward to.

He said: “New developments across the college group reflect the changing landscape of our economy and position us well for exciting opportunities ahead.  We are seeing a generation with a different skills demand and the college group is well placed to facilitate that.”

Joining the Etc. as a governor, alongside a host of other commitments, as well as the demands of a young family, Stuart explained: “The ethos of the organisation, the staff, and what we are here to do, really resonates with me.”

Looking to his fellow board members and colleagues across the group, he said: “Being surrounded by fantastic people has made my role as governor, and now the transition to chairman, so much easier.

“I didn’t set out to become chair of the board, but what an honour!”

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