Jeremy Middleton CBE

The North East Devolution Commission has set out a set of policies with the potential to end youth unemployment in the region with the launch of its first policy paper.

The paper, which was commissioned by devolution campaigner and entrepreneur Jeremy Middleton CBE, was written in consultation with education and skills experts, including Phillomena Marshall the founder and first Executive Principle of Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy.

The commission proposes a new “North East Skills Standard” designed to ensure that every young person is ready for the world of work, and a major drive to offer all young people the opportunity of 12 weeks of real, high quality work experience. The commission also suggests that devolved powers could help deliver more high quality apprenticeships and proposes the introduction of a “North East Curriculum” designed to help students study the subjects they need to get the jobs that exist.

The paper states: “Many of our schools and colleges are excellent and many of our young people go on to do incredible things. However, there is a problem. The North East has the highest level of youth unemployment in the country - over 20% of those between the ages of 19 and 24. At the same time the North East has major skills shortages – for example, there are more than 2,000 vacancies in the technology sector in the North East today!”

Jeremy Middleton said: “As a school governor I know that a high quality education and a wide range of personal, social, practical and technical skills are vital to our young peoples’ success. Devolution could give us the power to raise aspirations by ensuring business take a leading role in helping prepare our children and young people for their future careers. We need ideas that could deliver the world-class skills they need to make our region a global leader in science, technology, engineering, and enterprise (STEM).”

Philomena Marshall, a member of the North East Devolution Commission, said: "It is crucial that we are able to prepare our children and young people for employment at local as well as at international and national levels. We must make sure therefore that we are able to ensure that the skills that our pupils develop match those required for local business and industry and enable them to take up employment in their local community as well as compete further afield including internationally. Our education policy should enable us to do this, devolution can help us to make sure that all of our young people are able to take up employment and contribute to the development of their community or the community they chose to live in.”

More information on the North East Devolution Commission and the skills policy document are available at



Notes to Editors:

Jeremy Middleton

Mr Middleton is a self-made businessman and philanthropist based in the North East. He has been a Board Member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) since 2011 and is Chairman of the North East LEP Investment Fund, which makes recommendations to the LEP Board for the £25m Growing Places Fund and the £30m Infrastructure Fund.

Mr Middleton has carried out a range of sponsored fundraising for a variety of charities which to date include the North Pole, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, The Haute Route, Mount McKinley, Mount Elbrus and a cycle ride from London to Paris.

In 2012 Jeremy was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for Services to Politics and Charities.

He founded the North East Devolution Commission in 2016.

Philomena Marshall

Philomena was born and broughtup in Middlesbrough. She began teaching in a special residential school for girls with emotional and behaviour difficulties in inner London. She taught in 4 other inner London comprehensives all serving challenging communities before returning to returning to the North East in 1991, working in Chester Le Street and then Darlington

She was the Head of Sandhill View in Sunderland in 1997 and led it through re-build as first the PFI school and community learning centre in region; it vecame most improved and oversubscribed school.

She was also associate head of Monkwearmouth at same time as its best GCSE results ever.

Philomena was appointed to set up Excelsior Academy in Newcastleto replace West Gate community college. Excelsior is one most successful and highly performing secondary school in North East despite having one of the most complex and challenging cohorts.


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