From education to employment

Hectic summer for FE

Traditionally we think of the summer months as being quieter in the education world; a lull before the excitement of results season and the new Autumn term, but inevitably traditions fall by the wayside when there is work to be done and no doubt like so many others working in this field we seem to be as busy as ever!

The £1million Innovation and Development Fund that the Edge Foundation opened in January has just released its first round of grants totalling over £500,000. The seven projects that received the funds vary in size, region and focus but all support Edge’s Six Steps for Change and address at least two of the following three aims: support the creation of new institutions; support the development of profound employer engagement and address areas of skills shortages for the UK economy. From logistics in Lutterworth to food production at the Eden Project, mechatronics in London to construction and heritage craft in Oxford, the sector spread of the projects is wide and the number of young people that will benefit from them, vast.

In terms of our existing projects, our first Edge Hotel School students have finished their studies and are taking on the hospitality industry. Many of them have secured jobs at top hotels while others have found their interests lie in events and conference management and even in food writing and journalism. Whatever their futures hold, with the strong vocational focus of their Edge Hotel School degrees behind them, they’ll be able to get stuck straight in and we can’t wait to see them graduate in October.

We are also well into the plans for our Annual Lecture on 15th October which this year will incorporate a celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary. We’ll be taking a look back at the research and projects that Edge has been involved in over the past decade, how we’ve influenced policy, and the impact that we have had on individuals. And then we’ll be looking to the future and discussing what that might look like for the sector. With new ministers in position and an election on the horizon, we’ll be continuing to work with our partners to make sure vocational learning gets the priority and support it deserves, whatever the outcome.

Speaking of ministers, we’d like to thank Matthew Hancock for his involvement with Edge, for his support for our vision, and his commitment and focus on driving skills and vocational education to the top of the agenda. It is in this vein we hope Nick Boles will continue and look forward to working with him. Similarly as we bid farewell to Michael Gove we welcome in Nicky Morgan as the new Education Secretary and wish her luck as she tackles the challenges and complexities of the education system and continues the drive to raise standards.

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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