From education to employment

A summer of celebration!

The summer appears to be flying by but we can’t let it slip pass without mentioning the success of our seventh annual VQ Day, and once again, it really was a triumph. On 4th June, hundreds of schools, colleges, business and learning providers from across the UK, got involved and celebrated vocational learning with us.

For the Edge Foundation, this celebration of learners, teachers and employers is a great opportunity to get our message heard on a national stage. As we play host to the cream of the vocational crop, we highlight the many paths to success that can be taken. Sponsored by OCR, our VQ Learner of the Year winners have all travelled down very different routes to achieve their success; from taking Open University courses to supplement their learning to harnessing their entrepreneurial drive and opening businesses, they have all achieved incredible things and we have no doubt they will continue to do so.

Once again, with the support of City & Guilds, we recognised employers who support vocational learning and development in the workplace. For the second year running we were hugely encouraged by the number of employers who take it seriously; investing in their employees and as a result, their own business and the economy as a whole.

VQ Day 2014 also brought with it our first teacher award – the VQ Newly Qualified FE Teacher of the Year, sponsored by IfL. We were blown away by the quality of the nominations we received and our overall winner, Katy Graham, sets an amazing standard in terms of supporting her students, and the lengths she goes to, to go above and beyond and make a difference to their learning, is inspirational.

City & Guilds’ Lion Awards, the AoC Gold Awards and NIACE’s Adult Learners’ Week Awards also took place in June and brought with them their own inspiring nominees and winners. In our mission to raise the status of technical, practical and vocational learning, having such an array of vocational success stories really makes a difference. It allows us to actively demonstrate that these routes aren’t secondary to traditional academic pathways, that they are challenging, high-quality and ultimately can lead to your dream job and change your life.

And it’s not just about the individual. A new report we commissioned from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) to mark VQ Day, investigated the changing landscape of the workforce within the next decade. It revealed that 9 of the top 10 jobs expected to drive economic growth and mobility in the future, will be accessible with a vocational qualification. This research clearly demonstrates that we must continue to support high quality vocational education if we are to meet the needs of our future economy.

As well as our 7th VQ Day, 2014 also marks the Edge Foundation’s 10th anniversary. Although we have faced some turbulent times in the world of learning and skills over the past decade, our vision has not wavered. We are still determined to see an education system that recognises all forms of success in education and we will carry on championing those who achieve it. By working alongside our partners and with the cross-party support we continue to receive from government, we hope that VQ Day inspires those outside the sector to take stock and realise that there are many paths to success.

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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