Jan Hodges is chief executive of Edge

With less than seven weeks to go until the Skills Show kicks off, we’re beginning to feel the excitement. The UK’s largest skills and careers event will be taking place at the NEC Birmingham on 14-16 November and as premier sponsors, alongside City & Guilds, we’re looking forward to being more involved than ever.

Over the three days we will be running three Spotlight talks. The first is the final of our Edge Challenge competition, run in partnership with Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and the Gazelle Colleges Group. The top three entrants will be asked to pitch their idea to a panel of judges before the winner is announced. It’ll be a nerve wracking experience for the young entrepreneurs but an exciting watch for the audience. The second Spotlight will be from Skills to Shine. The team will be running interactive sessions showing young people, of both primary and secondary age, that everything they learn in school is real and relevant to the world of work, future options and careers. Our final Spotlight will follow the life journey of an engineer through the eyes of a Black Country UTC student, an apprentice and a fully-fledged engineer, answering the hows, whys and whats of a career in engineering.

UTCs will also have a stand where you can climb aboard a flight simulator, learn coding with raspberry pi, get to grips with a haptic robot, and have some fun with a jump mat, plus more!

We’re also teaming up with our co-sponsor City & Guilds to host a joint stand at the event which will showcase all kinds of skills. The final details of this are still being worked out but we can tell you that there will be afternoon tea, prepared and served by students of the Edge Hotel School.

Edge will also be hosting a Policy Seminar at the show which will take place on Friday 15th. The theme will be Apprenticeship reform: Alternative pathways, a timely topic in view of the Richard Review’s proposals and government’s plans for reform this year; we’re looking forward to a lively debate!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the Skills Show are the Have a Go experiences. With the NEC full to the brim of excitable young people eager to discover their hidden talents it’s only right that they should be able to try out as much as they possibly can and so we’re delighted to be involved in this aspect too. For VQ Day this year we ran a competition for colleges and learning providers to be in with a chance of getting the funding to showcase at the Skills Show. The two winners were Identicon Arts, who will be creating a mural throughout interactive workshops with young people, and the National Skills Academy based at Ockendon Studio School who will be running a Have a Go based on visual merchandising. Also getting involved will be the 2012/13 winner of the AoC Beacon Award that we sponsor, Bishop Burton College who will be giving people an agricultural experience and our two partners from the Edge Challenge, Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and the Gazelle Colleges Group who will also be showcasing.

It’s certainly going to be an action packed few days so to get sorted before you go, head to the website where you’ll find plenty of information on registering, what’s going on and even opportunities to volunteer.

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


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