Neil Latham, who joined Kingston University as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Employer Engagement just a few months ago, received the CBE at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace last month in recognition of his achievements during a 30-year career with the Royal Navy. "The award really was totally unexpected, which has made the honour even more special," Rear Admiral Latham, a chartered engineer, said.
Since joining Kingston University in March, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, who is known for his ‘take action’ approach, has thrown himself into the task of bringing the University, industry and Government together. "In my previous job, I spent several years developing an in-depth understanding of what the Ministry of Defence and related industries wanted from graduates," he explained. "Now I want to use that experience to try and help Kingston address the national skills agenda. It is early days yet, but we’ve already started to identify ways to achieve the goals set out in the Government-commissioned skills report by Lord Leitch; and the University has a strong base on which to build."
A great deal of this activity would centre around breaking down the barriers to learning and tailoring courses to make them more flexible and responsive to the needs of industry and those in the workplace, he added. "I want to open up new avenues of opportunity for everyone," he said. "The profile of a typical university student is changing, and we must adapt to their needs."
Latham is spearheading the University’s Employer Engagement initiative to expand its traditionally strong links with business. "Education, Government, industry and individuals are opening their minds to more diverse approaches to learning," he said. "You can expect to see Kingston’s already comprehensive portfolio of work-based learning programmes and continuing professional development opportunities evolve and expand further. By delivering the courses that students want in a format that industry needs, we will boost the skills level and help to build a better country with a stronger economy."
A former visiting fellow of St Antony’s College Oxford and former Commandant of the Defence College of Management and Technology in Oxfordshire, Latham brings a wealth of military and academic experience to his role at Kingston, in particular linking the needs of business to education. His naval career also involved leading change and working with industry to improve warship support arrangements at the dockyards and naval bases. Since taking up his post, Neil has been struck by the enthusiasm of staff and students at Kingston University. "Everyone wants to do their best – what more could you ask for?" he said.