A golden girl of skills in Wales is encouraging learners, employers and trainers to enter this year’s Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards.
Elizabeth Forkuoh, 20, who won the VQ Learner of the Year Intermediate Award last year, is blazing a trail in the hospitality industry, winning gold medals in every competition she enters.
Her most recent success came in the British Education Awards at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London where she won the vocational category awards for Wales and Great Britain. She is also competing to represent the UK in restaurant services at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.
To ensure that she learns from the very best in the hospitality industry, she has enjoyed placements at The Ritz and Le Gavroche in London, Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, The Midland Hotel, Manchester, receiving job offers along the way.
If she is not selected for the UK team at the end of March, she would like to take up a job offer from La Gavroche. If she is selected, then the job offer will probably be put on ice until next year, so that she can focus on the UK team’s training commitments.
“I want to get as much experience as I can, but ultimately I would like to come back to Wales and open an Italian restaurant,” added Elizabeth, who would love to study for a degree in hotel management.
She is studying an NVQ level three diploma in hospitality supervision and leadership at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Pibwrlwyd campus, having completed qualifications in professional cookery, professional food and beverage and barista skills with merit and distinction grades. Her learning journey has been supported by Linda Thomas, the college’s chief lecturer and Sector Skills Champion.
Elizabeth, who works part-time at the Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli, described her triumph in last year’s VQ Awards as “amazing” and encouraged fellow learners, as well as employers and trainers to enter this year.
“Winning the VQ Award has helped me to be recognised not only in Wales but also in Britain as well,” she said. “The award has opened quite a few doors for me. My advice to anyone thinking of entering the VQ Awards is to go for it and take every opportunity that comes your way. Certain things may only happen once in your lifetime.”
This year’s VQ Awards, which celebrate those who use technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success, will officially recognise the contribution of trainers for the first time.
An award for trainer of the year joins the three existing award categories – employer of the year, intermediate learner of the year and higher level learner of the year. The intermediate award is for learners with qualifications up to level three, while the higher award is for qualifications from level four upwards.
The VQ awards, which are launched today (February 15), offer individuals and organisations the chance to be recognised and rewarded for their commitment, hard work and achievements.
Nominations close on April 21 and the finalists in each category will be shortlisted and announced in early May. The awards ceremony will be held at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff on June 6, the eve of VQ Day on June 7. For more information about the awards and to download a nomination form please visit https://www.vqday.wales
A new partner has joined the organising team this year, as Qualifications Wales takes its place alongside the Welsh Government, National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru/ CollegesWales. The awards also receive support from the European Social Fund (ESF).
The VQ Learner Awards recognise learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field.
The VQ Employer of the Year Award focuses on employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.
The new VQ Trainer of the Year Award recognises individual trainers who have made a telling contribution to supporting learners in the workplace to achieve excellence whilst also constantly improving their own skills and knowledge.
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James said: “A VQ award is a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession. The awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers, learners and trainers who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.
“If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure that employers, individuals, training providers and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world class workforce.”
Colleges and learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages. Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.
Last year’s VQ Learner of the Year winner Elizabeth Forkuoh with Stradey Park Hotel’s general manager Lesley Morgan (seated) and her Coleg Sir Gâr tutor Linda Thomas.