Ben Blackledge has been appointed as the director of education at WorldSkills UK, the organisation that oversees the selection process for the British WorldSkills team.

Mr Blackledge, who was previously head of education and development, joined the organisation in April 2014.

He was previously at the Skills Funding Agency, where he was responsible for establishing partnerships with employers for the National Careers Service and working on the development of the government’s careers advice strategy.

“Ben has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the skills agenda,” said Dr Neil Bentley, chief executive of WorldSkills UK.

“With his drive and determination, I am confident that we will continue provide a comprehensive showcase of UK’s world class apprenticeships and technical skills to the young people who will form the basis of the future workforce.”

Mr Blackledge takes over the role from Christine Doubleday, who has been acting as interim director of education for 11 months.

Mr Blackledge said: “At such an important time for the UK, it is crucial that our [WorldSkills UK] work continues to inform and engage young people and employers.

“I am looking forward to expanding and reinforcing the work we do to support business competitiveness, develop young people’s skills and employability and continue to drive excellence in standards, while ensuring that our offering remains fresh, exciting and relevant.”

Meanwhile, Jane Machell has retired as principal of Alton College, Hampshire, after more than 12 years at the helm.

Former vice-principal for curriculum at Alton, Sara Russell has now stepped up to the top position.

Ms Machell described her time at the college as humbling.

“We deliver fantastic A-level provision and we have also developed our fantastic vocational courses,” she said.

“I am hugely proud of our foundation degrees, skills for learning and high needs provision. We are respected highly for this.”

Ms Machell added: “Students need knowledge, skills and creativity to enable them to have skills and emotional resilience for their next steps for the future and that’s what they gain at Alton College.”

Chair of governors Ian Gibson said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jane, on behalf of the college and the corporation, for her hard work and leadership over the past 12 years.

“She has been of great value to the organisation and has had a significant influence on its success.

“I’m sure that you will all join me in wishing her the best for a happy retirement.”

And FE and skills solutions specialist FEA has appointed John Maher as its new MIS managing consultant following Mike Craddock’s retirement.

Mr Craddock had held the role for more than a decade at FEA, formerly known as FE Associates, while Mr Maher had been a member of his team for eight of those years.

Mr Maher’s role will require him to lead the organisation’s information management team and working with FEA’s customers.

Managing director of FEA David Sykes said: “We have been incredibly lucky to have had such a well-respected MIS expert as Mike Craddock lead MIS for us and we wish him all the very best for the future.

“It was the right and natural decision to appoint John as his successor as the two shared so much both in terms of vision and delivery.

“John’s skills, insight and talent are equally valued and his appointment ensures excellent continuity for our providers and partners.”

Mr Maher said: “I have been very fortunate to work with Mike for so many years and, while his are substantial shoes to fill, I am very much looking forward to continuing our work and leading the department into the next phase.”

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