From education to employment

VQ Day 2014 has launched!

In February, a study commissioned by The Edge Foundation revealed that many young people are being actively discouraged from opting for a vocational pathway. For young people considering an alternative to the traditional academic route, support from both parents and schools was hard to come by. We have long known that parents are the biggest influence when it comes to educational choices but to have confirmation that students are being pushed into unsuitable academic courses under the belief they are too clever for vocational learning is disheartening.

While parents and schools may be the ones fuelling this particular fire it is unfair to lay the blame entirely at their feet; the age old stereotype that vocational learning is a last resort for those who have failed academically, exists beyond the school gates. It exists despite evidence that people who choose a practical, hands-on approach to learning are as fulfilled as people who take an academic route, and in many cases, as financially secure. As with all stereotypes the battle to break it down is not straightforward, which is why we, and many of our partners look for ways to highlight the benefits of vocational qualifications (VQs) not only to the individual but also to UK PLC. Our annual VQ Day does just that.

VQ Day is a demonstration and celebration of how individuals from across the UK can ‘get the edge’ – whether that’s in their current or future career or whilst in education. It celebrates those who have achieved success as a result of their VQ and inspires others to look into vocational pathways, a route they perhaps hadn’t previously considered.

We launched our campaign with a call for nominations for the VQ Awards. VQ Day itself is on 4th June with the England award ceremony taking place on the 3rd June in Westminster. Nominations are open and, along with the VQ Learner of the Year (sponsored by OCR) and VQ Employer of the Year (sponsored by City & Guilds), there is also a VQ Newly Qualified FE Teacher of the Year award (sponsored by IfL) in England. We feel it is incredibly important to not only recognise those who achieve vocational success but also, in light of our research, to celebrate those teachers who support them along the way.

We are not discouraged by the findings of our research; they merely reinforce Edge’s commitment to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning. We continue to work with our partners to champion our vision for an education system that gives all young people a choice of learning experiences and pathways based on their individual motivation, aspirations and talents.

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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