North East-based education and training specialist Learning Curve Group (LCG) has appointed an Iranian-born project development expert as the new manager of its Sunderland Skill Centre.
Richard Wright, 39, aims to improve further the success of the company’s Pallion site in helping meet regional demand for skilled construction workers.
The centre, on the Pallion Industrial Estate, specialises in teaching joinery, painting and decorating, plastering and other trade skills, as well as motor vehicle skills, to 16 to 18-year-olds and those aged 19-plus.
It is one of two Skill Centres – the second is in Middlesbrough – operated by LCG, England’s largest provider of distance learning and other work-based education and training programmes.
Richard, who lives near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, spent his first 11 years in the Middle East and West Africa due to his parents’ occupations, which included his father’s work in the oil industry, before beginning school in the North East.
The dad-of-two started his career on a Whitbread apprenticeship and advanced apprenticeship before joining its management scheme and eventually moving to a private pub operator and then into hotel and catering.
He made the move to LCG after seven years with a firm subcontracted to run programmes for the Department for Work and Pensions, specialising in project development implementation.
Richard said: “I aim to build on the already exceptional level of training and support we give our learners and pursue all opportunities to broaden the reach of our courses to as many young people as possible.
“I’m joining a team of highly-skilled and experienced professional tutors and support staff within a company that excels in all areas of its operations and has ambitions to get even better.
“It’s great to be working within such a positive environment and to be in a position to support young people as they seek the opportunities to learn and gain the excellent qualifications we provide.
“My role is all about helping young people to achieve – I hope to make a real difference to their lives.”
Overall, LCG partners more than 125 further education providers to deliver technical certificates and workplace learning, including apprenticeships and diplomas, to more than 100,000 people looking for higher educational and skills achievement a year.
It also works with around 2,800 employers to provide work-based learning to around 90,000 people a year, and its in-house education publishing division is the fastest-growing in the country. LCG also runs three military Skill Centres within Territorial Army bases in Yorkshire.
In November, Judith Moran, founder and chief executive of LCG, was named Durham and Wearside Business Executive of the Year in The Journal and Gazette Business Executive of the Year 2014 awards.
Former centre manager Greg Chapman, who has taken up the new post of teaching learning development manager, said: “Richard is a great addition to Learning Curve Group’s team in Sunderland and I’m sure he will be a great success in all he does.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my work as centre manager but I too am looking forward to a new professional challenge within the company.
“I’m delighted to be leaving the centre’s day-to-day running in very safe and committed hands.”
Brenda McLeish, LCG’s group managing director, added: “Richard has very strong people skills and is very enthusiastic, motivated and intelligent, and clearly understands the aims and ethos of the Skill Centre.
“He communicates very well and will undoubtedly play a major part in supporting our learners to gain the skills they need to progress into worthwhile careers.
“He is a highly-valuable asset to the centre, and I’m delighted he has joined us.”
Learning Curve Group was founded in 2004 and today employs 164 full-time staff at its headquarters in Bishop Auckland, and 423 associate tutors.
Its programmes include qualifications in mental health awareness and infection control, and apprenticeships in areas including construction, health and social care, customer service, business and administration, team leading and management.
LCG also pioneers e-learning and has developed the e-Assessor platform, which allows learners to complete their unit assessments and submit for marking online, and learning@college, a suite of courses which run parallel to and embellish a college’s existing curriculum.
In March 2014 education inspectorate Ofsted rated LCG “outstanding” for its provision of flexible learning and outcomes for students, and praised its curriculum for being responsive to the needs of learners and employers and its tutors for their skill and dedication to learners.