From education to employment

Edge Q&A: Eden Project Learning

Over the past decade Edge has championed the importance and benefits of high quality technical, practical and vocational education and training, seeking a closer alignment between education and the skill needs of the UK economy. ??Edge encourages innovation in education by supporting the creation of new institutions that promote profound employer engagement and address areas of skills shortages for the UK economy. In addition Edge champions projects that will support the effective dissemination of best practice in vocational education and training and have the ability to support further development or replication. All the projects in the series have the potential to become beacons of excellence and exemplars of what can be achieved.

Name of project – Eden Project Learning

Name of FE College – The Cornwall College Group

Project lead name and email address – Sarah Walkey and Ruth Allen
[email protected] & [email protected]

Location – The Eden Project, St Austell

Sector – FE & HE

What are you doing?

Eden Project Learning is a continuation and considerable development upon the education work that the Eden Project was already running. It launched in September 2014 with the recruitment of three cohorts of apprentices who would work and learn at the world class environment that surrounds Eden. At the same time The Cornwall College group have been working with Plymouth University to launch six different Higher Education qualifications for a September 2015 start; the delivery of all these programmes is a demonstration of true collaboration between the partners.

Why is it different/innovative?

The Eden Project is an Educational charity and a world class visitor destination that attracts thousands of people every year. That combination results in something that can only be described as a truly transformational educational experience. This takes the learning process out of the classroom and plants it in the heart of those industries; horticulture, performance, events management, landscaping and catering. For our apprentices, it’s not just about a qualification, but a program with real added value, learning about the process of food production and sustainability; two important issues as the world’s population increases.

Qualifications & skills learners acquire

The main qualifications cover a breadth of vocations at intermediate, advanced and higher levels and learners gain experience in a world class visitor attraction. The exact skills, knowledge and behaviour each learner develops has been informed, influenced and shaped by the needs of industry, both local and regional.

Who are your main partners & stakeholders?

The core partners are The Eden Project and The Cornwall College Group, with support from the Edge Foundation and Plymouth University. Other stake holders include; the Local Education Partnership, community groups, Cornwall Council, and local employers.

What are your ambitions for development?

We hope to grow the suite of qualifications at The Eden Project; offering higher level apprenticeships and opening up the possibilities to learners from a global community, learners which have been drawn by the possibility of learning in a unique and inspirational environment.

Tell us about any plans you have for dissemination of the model and how you are sharing best practise:

Early indications show that this type of unique or immersed collaboration has replicable benefits for learners and for industry, but it does take a group of like-minded organisations to make any partnership, such as this, succeed.

Employer engagement- how does this tie in to local labour market?

Statistics demonstrate that the South West Region has the highest part time working rate in the country. There is also clear evidence that more young people are leaving the region to search for employment and educational opportunities; with the region also being home to the lowest number of 18-24 year olds nationally. More young people and graduates need to be encouraged to stay, train and work in the region and providing high quality apprenticeship programmes in partnership with world class industries delivers real credible and sustainable career solutions to young people in our region.

What are the further learning and career path opportunities?

We have clearly identified progression pathways for our learners and we would expect many of our learners to become leaders of the future.

Destinations of students following the course- please give any examples where possible

N/A as first year of project.

What have been the greatest challenges of the project?

Merging business and education, combining the priorities of both to ensure a successful outcome for both the learner and wider industry.

What do you see as the biggest achievements around the project?

Some of our biggest achievements have come through collaborative working and developing partnerships to further enhance the opportunities on offer for our learners. The pride of the learners themselves as they put on the Eden uniform and the outstanding turn out to our HE open day, as learners from across the UK wanted to discover more about our higher education offer at Eden.

For more information about the Edge Innovation and Development Fund visit

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