A SENIOR executive from National Express will take the wheel as principal and chief executive of Birmingham Metropolitan College, which incorporates the former Stourbridge College.

Andrew Cleaves will take the reins in May, when current principal, Dame Christine Braddock, retires after 17 years at the helm.

Currently the managing director of the transport group's international division, Mr Cleaves has vowed to use his new position to strengthen the college's links with businesses across the region.

The transport company already has good links with the college as last year, the National Express Foundation supported 20 students in the Black Country through its bursary scheme, providing financial support to allow them to progress to higher and further education.

Dame Braddock has faith that her successor could continue to build links within the business community, she said: "I know his connectivity to business will lead the college in the right direction for its future. The governors and everyone involved in the recruitment process, identified knowledge of the business community gained at a senior level and the ability to build partnerships as critical requirements for my replacement.”

Mr Cleaves added: “We really can drive change and innovation into the education and skills agenda; there is real potential for more public-private training initiatives in this area, and I am confident that the same model can be used in other sectors for the benefit of employers and our students."

He continued: “As the UK economy continues to recover we have to provide young people with the necessary skills for them to be successful. To do this we will strengthen our links with businesses across the region both large and small, stakeholders and local authorities.

"Under my leadership I am determined that the team at BMet will bring all these aspects together to provide a compelling mix, that will see our students succeed in an ever-changing world."

Former Stourbridge College principal, Lynette Cutting will continue her role as deputy principal at BMet, although she is currently on sick leave.