Colleges and learning providers invited to become involved

Plans for the first day to celebrate vocational success have been launched at a Parliamentary reception. As new figures show that an estimated 17 million people in the UK (38 per cent) hold a vocational qualification, 'VQ Day' has been created to raise public awareness about the value of vocational qualifications.

VQ Day, due to be held on 23rd July 2008, will be marked by a national event in London, as well as regional events held by colleges and learning providers around the country. The Day will also see the publication of a report into the vocational qualifications landscape.

Plans for the Day are being led by education foundation, Edge, and are supported by the wider education community including exam boards, employers’ organisations, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Learning Providers. An action pack is also available for colleges and learning providers to download from www.vqday.org in order for them to hold their own VQ Day celebrations.

A roll call of vocational success has been established at www.vqday.org for past and present vocational learners to log on and add their name to the list. Visitors to the website can also vote for their Celebrity VQ Hero 2008. The shortlist of five celebrities, all of whom have made their name after gaining a vocational qualification will be announced shortly.

The Day was launched by Further Education Minister Bill Rammell, MP.

Also speaking at the event was Garry Hawkes, Chairman of education foundation Edge, he said:

"The launch of VQ Day is a huge step forward for the world of vocational learning. However, we need the millions of people who hold VQs, colleges, learning providers and schools to make themselves known by going to the website and seeing how they can get involved."

Alison Birkinshaw, Chair of the FE Reputation Strategy Group and Principal of York College, said:

"The FE Reputation Strategy Group is delighted to support VQ Day – this is a great opportunity to highlight that FE Works to support thousands of students to achieve vocational qualifications every year. This makes a major contribution to the economic health of the nation as well as leading to personal fulfilment in a wide variety of careers for many millions of people."

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers, said:

"VQ Day is an excellent initiative to show why Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications are becoming so highly valued by young people and employers. The Government wants to see 400,000 young people take up Apprenticeships and VQ Day will help attract more young people, including those with good GCSE results in their pocket, to consider the programme as an attractive, and for many the best, post-16 option."

David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, added:

"Celebrating the success of the thousands of people who achieve vocational qualifications every year is long overdue. Vocational qualifications properly prepare people not only for the work they are doing now but also help employees make a contribution to the development of their company."

Susan Anderson, Director of Human Resources Policy at the CBI said "The CBI is pleased to support the launch of VQ day. Employers value high-quality vocational qualifications as a route to employment and it is essential that young people in particular receive clear advice on both the academic and vocational options available to them. Vocational qualifications provide the practical knowledge required for success at work and will often be delivered in a ‘hands on’ manner in the workplace. Apprenticeships, Diplomas and other vocational qualifications have an important role to play in preparing young people for the world of work, alongside GCSEs and A-levels."

Iain Mackinnon, Chair of Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College, said:

"We will never learn the full value of vocational qualifications unless they are given equal attention to that of academic qualifications. Giving them the attention they deserve is exactly what we are doing with VQ Day. The time is right for every student who follows the vocational education route to be recognised for their talent, hard work and success. We are thrilled that partners in the learning and skills community are working together to celebrate vocational success at a national level."

Jerry Jarvis, Managing Director of Edexcel, said:

"Vocational learning is, as most employers would agree, as important as traditional academic learning. We should celebrate the millions of learners who will enter higher education or important job roles including 1.2 million annually from BTEC alone. Each contributes to our economy."

Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive of fforwm – the association of colleges in Wales, said:

"Colleges in Wales were proud to stage the first ever day of vocational celebration in Wales in August 2007. This year, we are delighted to be able to merge our campaign with VQ Day – a much bigger Day, which will bring public recognition to the achievements of vocational learners across the whole of the UK."

Penny de Valk, CEO of the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), said:

"ILM is a proud supporter of VQ Day. We welcome this opportunity to celebrate the huge value of vocational qualifications to UK PLC and highlight the proven progression routes for vocational learners into leadership and management positions. From leadership, coaching and mentoring to HR and enterprise, there is a growing demand amongst employers for managers who have the skills and knowledge to improve their performance. Vocational qualifications work at all levels to provide the skills for individual and organisational success."

Clara Kenyon, Director of Qualifications at OCR said:

"In today's world, there is a greater range and variety of jobs than ever before. Accordingly, new and different skills are often needed. It would be foolish to think that "one size fits all" when it comes to qualifications, and both vocational and general qualifications have a valued place in preparing individuals for their chosen career paths. OCR is pleased to be supporting VQ Day in recognising the worth of vocational qualifications, not just to the individual, but to society and the economy as a whole."

Ken Boston, Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said:

"The quality of all learning is expressed in the quality of the interaction of brain, eye and hand – reasoning, judging and doing. Vocational qualifications recognise high quality learning within the vocational disciplines, which is the key to building our national stock of human capital. QCA welcomes VQ Day as a celebration of great achievement, with unparalleled growth still to come."

Andy Powell, CEO of Edge also hopes the Day will counter the prejudice which sees less than half (44 per cent) of the population agree that vocational qualifications are as important as A-Levels:

"Every year millions of people across the country study for and gain a vocational qualification, leading to further vocational study or university, better jobs and enhanced skills. However, despite these clear benefits, vocational qualifications sadly do not enjoy the prestige of their more academic counterparts. The launch of VQ Day is just one step in starting to put this right."

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,173 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 18th April 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

According to the Census 2001 (Office of National Statistics), there are 45,434,897 adults aged 18 and over, 38 per cent of this figure is 17,265,261.

About VQ Day – 23rd July 2008

* Millions of people take a vocational qualification every year leading them on to further vocational study or university, better jobs and/or enhanced skills. For too long, this success has gone without the recognition and celebration it deserves. To raise the profile of vocational qualifications and celebrate vocational success ‘VQ Day’ is being launched. VQ Day will be an official celebration of the people who gain vocational qualifications every year, and the people who help them achieve this success.

* Plans for VQ Day are being led by Edge, the education foundation, in conjunction with the vocational qualifications community including, OCR, Federation of Awarding Bodies, Department for Innovation, University & Skills (DIUS), Edexcel, City & Guilds, EDI, OCR, Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), Qualifications & Curriculum Authority (QCA), fforwm and the Association of Colleges, Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College among others.

* VQ Day will be launched at a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons on 23rd April and the inaugural Day will take place nationwide on 23rd July 2008. A national celebration event will be held in London to showcase the diversity of vocational success, accompanied by a report examining the vocational qualifications landscape in the country. It is hoped that regional events will also be staged and that VQ Day will help raise the profile, and communicate the value, of vocational qualifications to future students, potential employers and the wider public.

* A roll call of vocational success is being established online, with all learners past and present invited to add their name to the list of people across the UK who have gained a vocational qualification. In addition, honorary vocational qualifications will be awarded on VQ Day to ‘VQ Heroes’ who embody vocational success.

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