Fran Hulbert is the former Director of Skills Policy at the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The skills remit of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) was based upon substantial economic and labour market analysis and linked to capital regeneration, infrastructure investment, business development and growth in employment opportunity.

Fran’s role involved ensuring that the skills, qualifications and competencies provided by schools, colleges and higher education better match the needs of employers. This was underpinned by “bending the spending” of circa £4bn of regional public resource on skills, employment and Higher Education (HE) in the region to respond to agreed priorities. Having been the lead representative for England’s nine RDAs for employment, skills and HE, she is experienced in creating links across several Government departments and Treasury on national policy issues in this area, working directly with ministers and the relevant national executive bodies.

A main achievement was placing skills capability on the policy table as a key economic factor to establish the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Fran’s extensive career has included teaching, lecturing in HE, curriculum and professional development at a national level, senior management posts in FE/HE, quality assurance, change management, regional economic development and policy formulation.

In her RDA Skills Policy role she was at the forefront of several major interventions such as the initial preparation and decision making process for the potential move of the BBC to Salford to create the new MediaCity, the supply of skills for the nuclear industry in Cumbria and the planning of workforce development in high level manufacturing sectors. She is strongly committed to ensuring that direct and active skills and employment measures are invested to the benefit of individuals, local communities and businesses.



Fran was a member of the Foster Review of Further Education, a Board member of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurs, and Foundation Degree Forward, and is a Fellow of the RSA. She chairs the University of Chester’s Business Advisory Council, and the Riverside Innovation Centre’s Steering Group. She also chairs the Fabric Advisory Committee of Chester Cathedral and is a Lay Canon of the Cathedral.

Now working independently, she combines the continuation of several non-executive university Board appointments with specific strategic, advisory and evaluation assignments. She is a very experienced conference Chair, and a highly regarded speaker, facilitator and presenter.

Fran lives in North Wales with her husband, with their grown up family and grandchildren in the vicinity. She enjoys being an art student again, writing, cooking and travel and laughs if you talk about retirement.

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