From education to employment

Edge CEO Jan Hodges recaps her first summer in the role

I was delighted to join Edge as CEO in July this year. Prior to this I was Principal and Chief Executive of South Essex College of Further and Higher Education following 25 years working in the education field, firstly as a teacher in secondary schools abroad and in the UK and then as a lecturer and manager in Further Education. Having championed the importance and benefits of high quality vocational education and training throughout my career I am delighted to be heading up Edge which is dedicated to doing just that.

This month one of our flagship projects, The Edge Hotel School completed a milestone with the appointment of Stephen Mannock as the General Manager. Stephen will run the innovative Edge Hotel School and country house hotel based at Wivenhoe House in Colchester launching in spring 2012.

The Edge Hotel School will be the UK’s first hotel school based entirely in a fully operational hotel. A partnership between the independent education foundation Edge, the University of Essex and its academic partner Kaplan Open Learning, it will combine theory and practice for the future leaders of the hospitality industry to learn their profession. Further appointments will be made next year, including the head of academic programmes.

The new hotel will feature period suites and rooms, a new garden wing, a signature restaurant for more formal dining, a brasserie for informal dining and meeting rooms.

Stephen Mannock, who has more than 20-years hands-on experience as a manager in the hospitality industry, will take up the post in November. He becomes the first industry professional appointed to the historic country house hotel which is currently undergoing a £10 million refurbishment.

Stephen is currently Programme Director for the National Skills Academy for Hospitality. For the past three years he has chaired the waiter judges in the Young Chef Young Waiter of the Year competition. He is also a judge in the Nestle Toque d’Or competition for colleges and the Academy of Food and Wine’s Restaurant Manager of the Year competition.

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As we look towards October our focus will be on WorldSkills London 2011. Edge is proud to be the premier supporter of Squad and Team UK for this inspiring event. With the competition taking place on home ground, it provides the UK with an opportunity to showcase some of the incredible vocational skills talent we have to offer. In tough economic times, it is more vital than ever that we have the resources and training to inspire all young people to succeed in life, whatever path they choose. Edge campaigns to promote technical, practical and vocational education and training as a quality route to a respected career.

Our thoughts and support are with the 43 members of Team UK who will be competing in 37 skills ranging from mobile robotics, electronics and the manufacturing team challenge through to cooking, hairdressing and landscape gardening.

WorldSkills London 2011 is an opportunity to remind ourselves that there are many paths to success, bringing together evidence of the vast scope of vocational training. The current members of Team UK as well as past competitors (WorldSkills, UK Alumni) provide us with excellent examples of how technical, practical and vocational learning and teaching can lead to success in life and work.

Rachel Carr is 23 and will represent Team UK at WorldSkills, competing as part of a three person team in the manufacturing team challenge competition. Rachel is employed by BAE Systems and got into engineering after showing a natural interest in maths and science at school. She applied for a BTEC course at college, thoroughly enjoyed it and found out about BAE Systems at a careers evening. She got a place on their apprenticeship scheme in September 2005. Her ambition is to get her BEng, become a Chartered Engineer within wind tunnel engineering and to become specialised within that field.

21 year old Stefan Howells is also part of Team UK and will be competing in the confectionery / pastry chef. He lives in Oxford where he is employed by Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons? Stefan was academic at school but he didn’t enjoy book work and sitting at a desk. He now finds himself in a job that he loves and has achieved an NVQ level 2 in all aspects of catering, distinction in pastry cooks and 9 GCSEs.

As the premier supporter of Team UK, the Edge Foundation is involved in a range of events being held at WorldSkills London 2011, and we would encourage everyone to come along and experience this great event. Visit the website for further information. Visit World Skills Premiere Experience 2011 for further information about the conference and events programme.

Jan Hodges is chief executive of Edge, the independent education foundationd edicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning

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