South London Skills and Employment board

The South London Skills and Employment Board is made up of local businesses, training providers, third sector and council representatives from the London boroughs of Sutton, Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Richmond, which together form the South London Partnership (SLP). Board members will work to help businesses and other employers, helping them invest in staff and supporting career progression through training.

Next year the government plans to devolve the budget for the commissioning of adult skills in the capital to the Mayor of London. Sub-regions will have a formal role in shaping how the budget is spent. The South London Skills & Employment board will identify local priorities and feed these back to the London Mayor through the chair of the board, Cllr Ruth Dombey, SLP Skills Lead and Leader of Sutton Council. 

South London Skills and Employment Board members:

Cllr. Ruth Dombey (Chair), Sutton Council: Cllr. Ruth Dombey is the Leader of Sutton Council and the skills lead for South London Partneship and has been appointed a Board member of the London Mayor’s Skills for Londoners Board which is chaired by the Mayor of London. 

Ann Kelly, Epsom and St Helier HospitalAnn’s experience in the NHS is vast including nursing and operational management roles. She has spent several years working within a community Trust in Central London as a clinician, and in addition managed community nursing, therapies, and administrative staff in a central London borough. For the last 15 years, Ann has managed NHS Recruitment teams in both Community and Acute Trusts and is keen to provide skilled workforce to the NHS.

Somayeh Aghnia, Geeks LTDSomayeh is the co-founder and Managing Director at Geeks LTD, an award winning innovative software house in South London. Somayeh has over 15 years of experience in delivering complex software projects in various industries as well as designing and implementing a special training programme to encourage young people and diverse people to enter the IT industry, which has won national awards. She also speaks at conferences and business events about digital transformation and the opportunities that smart adoption of technology will bring to the organisations to be more creative, innovative and a leading force in their industry.

Sophie Willmott, Mott MacDonald: Sophie has worked at Mott Macdonald for the past three years solely focused on Early Careers Recruitment. As a prominent engineering consultancy, Mott Macdonald have global presence with its head office based in Croydon. Sophie particularly focused on promoting STEM subjects as there is acute awareness of the engineering skills shortage is likely to get worse over the coming years. As the company lead for UK apprentice recruitment, Sophie is aiming to build Mott MacDonald’s school engagement strategy and will use her passion for the industry to inspire the next generation of engineers and consultants.

Diana Sterk, Merton Chamber of Commerce: Diana has been Chief Executive of Merton Chamber of Commerce since 2001 and has developed it to be the largest area-based Chamber of Commerce in London. The Chamber not only offers business to business services but also a broad range of enterprise support services including the creation of Take One in 2013, a service asking employers to take on additional team members through apprenticeships, paid internships and work experience. 

Diana has over 30 years’ experience in skills and training. She was part of the Government’s team that launched the youth training scheme in 1984 and, since then, has worked with a Training and Enterprise Council and government agencies promoting training, skills development and enterprise in business. 

Sarah Dalmedo, National Physical Laboratory: Sarah works in the Government Relations Team at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). Her role involves responding to and developing policy and communications that cover NPLs key areas of interest that span: digital technology and AI, energy and the environment, advanced manufacturing, quantum technologies, health and life sciences, science training and skills. Previously Sarah worked as the Head of Education Policy at the Royal Society of Biology, delivering the Societies UK wide education activity from primary through to tertiary education. Prior to this she spent 5 years teaching secondary science in London.

Darren Hockaday, Gatwick Airport: Darren has over 18 years in HR with extensive experience in transport, infrastructure, aerospace, engineering, retail and manufacturing sectors – delivering strong operational results leading HR functions delivering people strategy aligned to business performance and transformation. In particular, Darren combines industrial relations expertise, talent and leadership development. Darren was appointed as HR Director at Gatwick Airport Limited in March 2014. The introduction of an airport-wide recruitment hub has improved operational resilience. Prior to this, Darren was HR Director at London Overground Rail Operations Ltd

Adele Roberts-Hunt, Kingston University: Adele’ Roberts-Hunt is the Head of Business at Kingston University, responsible for the provision of commercial business activity. Adele started a numerous businesses ranging from vintage clothing to management consultancy and spent over twelve years teaching Strategy and Enrepreneurship at a number of universities before moving into business development.

David Taylor, Stanley Park High School: David has taught in London schools for 30 years and is the Headteacher at Stanley Park High school. Passionate about Human Scale values, he directed the design and curriculum planning for SPH, which was designated a ‘One School Pathfinder’ under the Building Schools of the Future programme. He foresaw the new school as a hotbed of innovation: models of schools within schools empowerment, participatory governance, transformational curriculum development, community involvement and radical approaches to assessment. In June 2016 Stanley Park High was proud to be awarded TES ‘Secondary School of the Year’ and in October 2018 it was identified as a ‘Beacon of Hope’ by the Edge Foundation.

Khadiru Mahdi, Merton Voluntary Services Council: Khadiru has been Chief Executive of Merton Voluntary Service Council since January 2015. Prior to this role, he held a similar position at Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Service (THCVS) for three and a half years. He has 25 years senior leadership and management in the public and voluntary and community sectors. His career also spans working for large and small community organisations in Hackney and Lambeth to the regional voluntary organisation, London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC).

Carole Cook, Training & Recruitment Partnership: Carole has been involved in work-based training with an emphasis on Apprenticeships for almost 20 years.  Prior to this, she worked in banking. As a school governor, trustee and National Leader of Governance Carole understands the need for collaboration and partnership at all levels of education. Employers are key to the sector’s success and Carole is relishing the opportunity afforded by the Skills and Employment Board and Adult Skills Provider Forum (Carole is Chair of the forum) to promote real partnership and joined up working and thinking to help move the sector forward and support residents skills needs.

Jo Negrini, Croydon Council: Jo was appointed CEO of Croydon Council in 2016. She was previously the council’s Executive Director of Place, overseeing skills, employment, safety, streets, regeneration and planning. Jo has worked in regeneration, in its broadest sense, in the public sector for 29 years and has a strong commitment to putting people and communities at the heart of planning good places.  In 2018 Jo was awarded the New Londoner of The Year Award by New London Architecture for services to regeneration and her championship of equal rights.

Sarah Banham, Battersea Power station: to follow

Mandy Skinner, Richmond Council: to follow

Sarah Sturrock, South London Partnership

Doniya Soni, GLA representative (observer)