We’re always delighted to see Edge, our partners and our projects in the news, so a rather grey and gloomy Monday was brightened this week by the appearance of Sam Brough in the now not-so-new New Day newspaper.

Sam is a student at the Edge Hotel School , based in Colchester, one of our most successful and innovative projects and something which I’m particularly proud to now be a part of. The Youth of Today feature in the New Day paper, celebrates Sam and his fellow students’ work for a fundraising event, A Night for Nepal, to raise money for a school in Kathmandu. It highlights the initiative and resourcefulness demonstrated by students at the school which goes beyond what they achieve in their studies.

Now nudging towards its fifth birthday, the Edge Hotel School has seen its students go on to careers working in some of the best establishments in the hospitality industry. The success of its alumni reflects the quality of the teaching and training the Edge Hotel School offers. Unsurprisingly it has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative and valuable education opportunities for young people in the UK.

At Edge we know that for many of us ‘learning by doing’ can be more creative and productive and we believe should be valued in the same way as academic study. The 21st century global economy demands technical and practical skills; the curriculum at the hotel school perfectly illustrates how the opportunity to apply the theory benefits students not just by providing ‘real-world’ experience, but increasing their confidence in the way only practice can.

The Grade II listed Wivenhoe House is the home of the Edge Hotel School. There has been a manor house on the estate site since 1066, but Wivenhoe House as it stands today dates back to around the middle of the 18th century. It was sold to the University of Essex in the 1960s and after being used as conference facilities for many years, now operates as a widely acclaimed luxury four-star hotel. Students on the two-year BA (Hons) in Hotel Management course – awarded by Edge partners the University of Essex – have the benefit not just of study and contact time, but the opportunity to work in a premium organisation.

I met some of the students at the Skills Show last year and when I visited the Edge Hotel School last month, and the thing which struck me most about these young people, was their confidence and professionalism. One tutor told me how a student who had been very shy and said very little in the company of her peers, shifted to the opposite end of the confidence spectrum when she was working and dealing with clients in the hotel.

Of course hotel management and hospitality are not the only sector where hands-on experience can not only build self-assurance, but make young people more attractive to employers. We know from the companies we work with, that so-called ‘soft skills’ – self-reliance, working as part of a team, being able to communicate well – are highly valued by employers and give job candidates an advantage over their less worldly peers.

Combining vocational, practical and professional training is an attractive and viable option for young people, especially as university tuition fees increase.

As more and more functions are becoming automated – a Google driverless car anyone? – intrinsically human and unique attributes such as creativity, resourcefulness and imagination will be more highly prized. Whether it’s working as part of a team of engineers to find water security solutions in developing countries, finding new applications for virtual reality technology or providing second-to-none customer service, an environment which gives a practical application to what we learn in the classroom or lecture hall, is an opportunity to develop those skills.

With their ambitious fundraising plans to help the Children of the Mountain  charity, Sam and his fellow students ably demonstrate how those skills can be used in the service of compassion and care. If you’re in the Colchester area and would like to support them in their fundraising efforts then do visit the website for tickets.

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