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).

It is a forum for collaborative leadership to shape and help secure improved access to and successful delivery of adult skills training. This will support our businesses and services to invest in their own workforces, to prosper and be more productive, and will support job entry and career progression in good quality, sustainable work for our residents, improving their and their families’ wellbeing.

 It aims to influence:

  • The developing skills provision and systems across London to ensure that South London employers and residents can secure the skills they need; and
  • The actions of key players within the South London skills system – providers, employers, boroughs, schools, voluntary sector and learners.

South London Skills and Employment Board members:

Cllr Gareth Roberts (Chair), Richmond Council: Councillor Gareth Roberts has served on Richmond Council since 2010 when he was first elected as a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Hampton.  He held the seat at subsequent elections and in 2015 became leader of the Opposition Group on the Council. In 2018, following the landslide election result which saw the Liberal Democrats go from an opposition group of 14 Councillors to an administration of 39 councillors, he was elected as Leader of the Council.  Cllr Roberts in the Chair of the SLP Leaders Group and is the lead Leader on Skills and Employment, representing south London at the Skills for Londoner Board

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.

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.

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.

Sarah Banham, Battersea Power station: to follow

Andrew Slade, Principal at South Thames Colleges Group: to follow

Sarah Sturrock, South London Partnership: Sarah is Director of the South London Partnership – a sub-regional collaboration of 5 south London boroughs (Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton).  She leads a small team working closely with the boroughs and wider partners to support collaboration to add value for residents and the sub-regional economy. currently focussing on responding to the Covid pandemic, the economic recovery, and the integration of health and care.

Laura Dubeck, GLA representative (observer)