Cambridge can be a place of fantastic opportunity, with good new jobs created at a faster rate than almost anywhere else in the UK. However, we know that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to do those jobs and at the same time employers can struggle to fill vacancies and recruit and retain their staff. The Skills Group focuses on how the skills system can address these issues, making the Cambridge economy more inclusive and in turn build a more secure pipeline of talent for employers.

Latest News & Insights

Career Insight Videos

The Skills Group is passionate about the importance of young people getting the best possible education regarding the career opportunities available to them and the various pathways they can take into work.

In order to support this objective, raise career aspirations and broaden horizons for young people, we have produced a series of careers videos for use in schools and colleges across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. 

These feature young people from across a range of sectors from with Cambridge Ahead membership organisations and beyond.

Gareth John: Chair, Skills Project Group. Chief Executive, First Intuition

Gareth John is Chief Executive of First Intuition, the accountancy training provider who are based on Hills Road in Cambridge and operate in other locations across East Anglia. Gareth has been involved in professional education since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant 25 years ago and has strong relationships with the major UK accountancy awarding bodies such as ICAEW, AAT, ACCA and CIMA.

In the last few years Gareth has been heavily involved in the roll-out of the accountancy apprenticeship standards (from level 2 to level 7) to the majority of his large and regular clients. He is a passionate advocate of the broad benefits these robust programmes bring to learners and their employers. Gareth is regularly involved in Apprenticeship policy discussions with ESFA, DfE, IFATE, CBI and many other key stakeholders.

In recent years Gareth has seen a significant trend towards a preference for school leaver programmes across many employers in the accountancy sector, a positive shift which has broadened recruitment diversity and improved access to the profession. The provision of good quality, employer-focused careers advice at school is something he believes very strongly in.

Gareth is now involved in the design and development of Post-Qualification Education programmes for finance professionals, covering rapidly emerging skills in Digital Technologies & Data Analytics as well as more traditional skills in Leadership & Management.

Gareth is a Council member of the ICAEW, a member of the CBI East of England Regional Council, a member of the ICAEW East of England Strategy Board and a Governor of Cambridgeshire Skills.

Project Group Members

  • Abbey People: Nicky Shepard, CEO
  • Arm*: Khaled Benkrid, Director of Education and Research / Nicholas Sample, Senior Manager, Arm School Program
  • Anglia Ruskin University*: Professor Claire Pike, Pro-vice Chancellor for Education
  • Birketts*: Abigail Trencher, Partner & Head of Employment Law
  • Bruntwood SciTech*: Aline Charpentier, Head of Innovation 
  • Cambridge Assessment: Tim Oates, Group Director Assessment, Research & Development
  • Cambridge Building Society*: Louise Harper, People Manager
  • Cambridge City Council: Jemma Little, Economic Development Manager
  • Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce: Adeline Winshaw, Strategic Projects Manager
  • Cambridgeshire County Council: Jonathan Lewis, Service Director: Education 
  • Cambridge Regional College: Corrin Hoyes, Deputy Principal, Quality Improvement
  • Cambridge University Hospitals*: Vanessa Anderson, Apprenticeship Programme Manager / Karen Clarke, Associate Director of Workforce
  • Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority: Claire Paul, Interim Assistant Director / Laura Guymer, Apprenticeship Levy Advisor
  • Careers and Enterprise Company: Daryl Keyworth, Senior Manager - Network South
  • The Crown Estate*: Hannah Patrick, Community Partnerships Manager
  • Eastern Education Group*: Laraine Moody, Group Principle
  • Form the Future: Anne Bailey, Co-Founder and Director
  • Marshalls Skills Academy of Marshall of Cambridge*Dan Edwards, Managing Director
  • Meridian Trust: Andy Daly, Principal at Swavesey Village College / Angela Manley, Director of Careers and Career Lead at Stratton School
  • Morgan Sindall*: Helen Clements, Social Value Manager
  • Mott MacDonald*: Rosie Lugg, Education Advisor
  • One Nucleus: Tony Jones, CEO
  • Swavesey Village College: Andrew Daly, Principal
  • University of Cambridge*: Jon Datta, Deputy Head of Widening Partnership
  • Urban & Civic*: Rebecca Britton, Communications, Communities and Partnerships
  • Wellcome Sanger Institute*: Dawn Percival, Head of Learning, Development & Talent / Francesca Gale, Head of Education 

* Member/Member organisation

Cambridge Ahead:

  • Dan Thorp, CEO
  • Andrew McGowan, Director of Programmes and Partnerships
  • Alex Rossiter, Senior Policy Manager
  • Emma Pritchard, Policy and Research Officer


07548 832 833


Sarah Brereton, Director, Limewash
07796 583 223

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