December 24, 2020 10.28 am This story is over 41 months old

Reflections 2020: Gary Headland – What a handsome young chap!

On the triumphs and challenges of 2020

For the avoidance of doubt, the headline refers to Freddie the newest member of the Lincoln College Group (LCG) team and self-evidently not the author!

Freddie is indeed gorgeous and he has an important and serious role to play as our therapy dog, working with our students and staff as part of our health and wellbeing strategy and plan.

I am increasingly using the triple bottom line (TBL) theory to guide the way I think about business in my day-job and through my roles with the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Institute of Directors. For those not familiar with it, TBL is an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental and financial or my preferred version which is people, planet and profits. My reflections on 2020 are set out using the framework as follows:


2020 has been an incredibly tough year for people in so many ways. I suspect that anthropologists will be studying for many years to come the transformational impact that the combined effect of the fourth industrial revolution, Brexit and Covid will have on people.

A critical issue during 2020 has been mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff. We are working very hard to really understand the real impact of digital working on the health, confidence and productivity of our people, and not just focus on reducing our cost of delivery.

It is anathema that in 2020, we are still discussing the need for significant improvements to equality, diversity and inclusion in our communities. And the impact of Covid has introduced a new term into our lexicon which is digital poverty; and it is real. I believe we have come a very long way since I first started full-time work in 1985 but I also feel that the pace of change is too slow. Through education and training, and each of my voluntary business-representative roles, I am committed to doing more to accelerate and embed the changes we will still need to see to ensure that our communities are inclusive.

Paradoxically, I anticipate the post Covid environment to be one in which some sectors are facing a significant skills shortage (eg, aviation, social care, farming, hospitality, events, arts and tourism) while the nation is also tackling much higher levels of unemployment than we have had in recent history. LCG is already working in partnership with the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce using the national Kickstart scheme to help people to gain new skills, re-gain their confidence where necessary and find new work. We are also aiming to open two new education institutes soon, the aim of which is to tackle industry-wide skills shortages: a hospitality, events, arts and tourism (HEAT) institute in Lincoln; and an international air and space training institute (IASTI) in Newark. Please look out for more information on these incredibly exciting new Midlands skills capabilities.


Despite Covid, which hopefully will pass or be managed and mitigated like other viruses, climate change and the sustainability of our planet is probably the greatest single issue facing all humanity. The LCG has a relevant role to play and we are innovating new programmes for delivery through our Sustainable Green College, which we hope to launch in the not too distant future. Sustainability is a major issue also for the Chamber and the IoD as we work with our members to help them to play their part in tackling this incredibly important issue.


As a Charity, LCG is a not-for-profit organisation. The profits we do make through our UK commercial and international work are reinvested into the quality and relevance of the education we provide in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark. LCG, like many other organisations, has been impacted adversely in terms of decreased income and increased costs as a result of Covid but we remain a strong going concern and are continuing to invest in new programmes to meet the needs of our communities in line with our mission of being ‘employer-led; producing a highly skilled and productive local workforce’.

I’d like to close by playing the strongest possible tribute to my team across all of the LCG’s colleges and other commercial operations. Throughout the crisis, they have focused intensely and unswervingly on meeting the needs of the students and employers whom we serve. I am immensely proud of them all and, as ever, enormously grateful for their extraordinary effort, determination and achievements.

If 2020 were a brand, what would its tag line be?

“You’re on mute”; or,

“The year that was, thank heavens!”

Gary Headland MA MBA Chartered FCIPD MIoD
A former Royal Air Force officer, civilian police director and private sector director, Gary Headland is the CEO of the Lincoln College Group which in the UK comprises further and higher education colleges in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark and a commercial partnership with the Immigration and Removal Centre at Morton Hall. Overseas, the LCG has a female Further Education College at Al Qatief and a male Higher Education Technical Trainers College in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and run joint international programmes at two Colleges in the Sichuan Province of China. Gary is also the Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Greater Lincolnshire, Chair of the Federation of Greater Lincolnshire Colleges, Patron and Director of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce; Member of Court of Bishop Grosseteste University; Member of the RAF College Cranwell Independent Advisory Panel; and Member of the Association of Colleges International Portfolio Group.