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The Corporation

Posted: 08/06/12

Student named region's top vocational success story

West Nottinghamshire College student Joseph Johnson has scooped a top award celebrating the country’s best vocational talent.

The 19-year-old has been named the VQ Learner of the Year 2012 for the East Midlands.

The VQ Learner of the Year Awards, now in their fifth year, form part of VQ Day – an annual celebration of people who gain vocational qualifications every year in the UK. The event aims to raise the status of technical, practical and vocational learning and the value vocational qualifications bring to learners, businesses and wider society.

Joseph beat off competition from across the region and is now in the running for the national award, along with vocational learners from eight other English regions.

On Wednesday 20 June, he will attend London’s prestigious BAFTA venue, where former Education Secretary Lord Baker, Chairman of independent education charity Edge Foundation, and Rt. Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, will announce the overall winner.

Joseph, who has successfully completed a Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery, impressed the judges with his leadership of the college hospitality team’s enterprise project The Forest Ferret, which now sells its own range of jams and preserves in outlets across Mansfield and Ashfield.

Joseph’s contribution to The Forest Ferret company resulted in him being hand-picked by the college to attend an evening reception of the London Entrepreneurial Exchange, where, along with eight other students, he got tips on what it takes to be successful in business from some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country.

In addition to the commitment he has demonstrated to The Forest Ferret, Joseph has always excelled in his studies and is dedicated, professional and supportive of his fellow learners.

He was nominated for the award by hospitality curriculum manager Jennie Jordan and entitlement, enterprise and employability manager Cate Hunt.

On receiving the award for the East Midlands, Joseph said: “I was thrilled to find out I was the VQ Learner of the Year for the East Midlands. I always knew I wanted to work with food so decided to study for a vocational qualification in professional cookery at West Nottinghamshire College.

"As part of my course I got involved in The Forest Ferret business and now we sell our own range of jams and preserves for them.

“The support from my tutors and lecturers has helped me so much and guided me in my chosen career path. I would encourage any young learner considering a vocational qualification to go for it as they can really help focus your goals”.

Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, which leads VQ Day, added: “High quality vocational qualifications play a vital role in society, providing young people with the skills, experience and clear progression routes they need to get ahead.

“The judges were hugely impressed by Joseph’s vocational achievements and this award is richly deserved. We wish Joseph every success in his future career and hope other learners in the East Midlands will recognise from this inspirational story that there are many paths to success.”

It is the second year running a West Nottinghamshire College student has been named VQ Learner of the Year for the East Midlands, after engineering apprentice Leanne Cooke, from Mansfield, scooped the prestigious title in 2011.

For more information about VQ Day and the VQ Learner of the Year Awards, visit www.vqday.org.uk.