STUDENTS from Chester and Ellesmere Port have been honoured in England’s first national vocational qualifications day.
VQ day aims to highlight the importance of the vocational qualification route into higher education, careers and successful futures and to raise public awareness about the post-16 learning option.
West Cheshire College principal Sara Mogel said: “Each year West Cheshire College has about 20,000 students studying for vocational qualifications – either full time, part time and work-based or as an apprentice through their employer – but their achievements don’t enjoy the same level of prestige as GCSEs or A-levels.
“Vocational qualifications are a vital step to help people achieve their goals and give our students high quality education and skills that improve the social and economic well-being of individuals, communities and businesses throughout the area.
“The vast majority of our students go from here on to university, other further study or good jobs and we’re delighted their hard work and success is now being acknowledged.”
Nationally the UK depends on the millions of people who take VQs each year, ranging from accountancy to mechanical engineering, to provide the skills needed by employers to keep the country economically competitive.
Here are some of the VQ success stories:
Among the current band of up-and-coming young theatre technicians is 18-year-old student Joe Dowling of Saltney who has just completed his BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Technical Theatre) and gone straight to work for a touring theatre company.
He said: “The tutors were all very supportive and even arranged work experience for me at the Liverpool Empire while the musical Cats was there. Having an opportunity to work with one of the biggest touring productions in the country was amazing.”
Alena Johnson’s success at West Cheshire College has secured her future at university studying fashion design.
Alena, 31, originally from the Czech Republic, needed the right qualifications to win a coveted place at John Moores University in Liverpool. Her final year collection, a mix of designs and fabrics based on the Edwardian era, went on display at Heswall Library and wowed visitors who were amazed by her creative use of colours and textures.
Her work at West Cheshire College secured her a university place to study fashion design.
Martino Palumbo, 20, of Chester, had harboured a dream of becoming a psychiatric nurse since he was young but didn’t have the qualifications he needed to get a place at university.
So he came to West Cheshire College to study for a BTEC in care and from then followed on with his HE Access course Access to Health, Nursing and Human Sciences. The only immediate decision facing Martino now is whether to take up the place offered at Liverpool or at Manchester.
Eighteen-year-old Heather Elrick-Tobin of Chester always excelled at school but harboured an ambition to follow her mum’s footsteps into beauty therapy.
Heather, an NVQ level 2 student in beauty therapy, said: “Because of this course and my AS levels I’ve been accepted at Leicester College to do a Foundation degree in make-up artistry, something I couldn’t have done without the support of the tutors here.”