From education to employment

2013 in a nutshell

Jan Hodges OBE is chief executive of Edge

It has been an exciting and busy year for us at the Edge Foundation and we’ve been working hard to ensure our messages are heard. Our Six Steps for Change have continued to remain at the heart of our work, be it research, supporting innovation or celebrating success; we are constantly working towards an education system that offers all young people the opportunity to reach their potential.

High quality research forms the backbone of our work. Particular highlights from the past twelve months have been our collaboration with City & Guilds on research into employers’ perspectives on vocational education and our work with think-tank IPPR on our VQ Day campaign, which focused on the consequences of league table reform on vocational provision.

We are dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning and believe strongly in celebrating the achievements of individuals who follow these paths. Our own VQ Day campaign was a great success in 2013 and the quality and quantity of nominations we received for our VQ Learner of the Year Award really demonstrated the wealth of talent we have in the UK. The Edge Challenge competition we ran with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and Gazelle Colleges was also another opportunity for us to see the dedication and drive that those following technical, practical and vocational routes have. The many other events that our partners have run this year including the AoC’s Gold and Beacon Awards, City & Guilds Lion Awards, National Apprenticeship Week, Adult Learners’ Week and The Skills Show, have only reiterated this and demonstrated the passion of those working within the sector. It is the real life stories of inspiration and success that come out of events like these that make our efforts worthwhile and bring our vision to life.

We are constantly amazed at what young people are capable of, from the students at the Edge Hotel School who are so professional they are nigh on impossible to tell apart from the experts, to the young people who, in some cases, have overcome adversity and battled prejudice to excel in their VQs and carve out careers for themselves. We have seen these learners in action, we’ve seen the commitment they have to their studies and futures and we’ve seen the pride on their faces as they talk about their learning journeys.

Unfortunately this year, we’ve also seen funding cuts to FE and we’ve seen the consequences that cutting VQs from league tables has on curriculum.

We are in a good position: we have cross party support from government. We have provided evidence and ideas to the Husbands’ Review of vocational education, set up to support the Labour Party’s plans in this important field. We also contributed to a “school to work” commission led by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, and to the Skills Commission Report ‘One System, Many Pathways’. Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, has been a great champion of ours, speaking at several of our events throughout the year. We are being heard, we will continue to make ourselves heard in 2014, and if needs be we will shout a little louder.

Jan Hodges OBE is chief executive of Edge, the independent education charity dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning

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