2 December 2015

emfec celebrated the year's achievements with over a hundred members, friends and stakeholders at its annual parliamentary reception hosted by Lilian Greenwood MP on Tuesday evening in the Houses of Commons.

Among the Principals, Governors and Chief Executives of further education colleges were MPs and Peers including Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and Iain Stewart MP, as well as colleagues from FE and skills organisations.

The audience was addressed by Lilian Greenwood MP, Shadow Transport Secretary, who highlighted just how critical further education and skills are.

With Area Reviews taking place across the country - the biggest reform to the sector since 1992 - Lilian reminded the audience of the difficult decisions colleges have to make and her hope that the Government will deliver the best results at the lowest cost to the public.

Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of emfec, thanked the Nottingham South MP for her support and praised emfec's member colleges in the East Midlands for their hard work and continued lobbying.

"We are working in difficult times and working to make Government policy work for our members. We all took a sharp intake of breath at last week's Spending Review but we are still in difficult and challenging times and will continue to work with MPs to meet our members' and partners' needs.

"It’s a challenge day in, day out running a college in times of constant policy change but we must remember what it's all about and sometimes we forget it's all about the learners. I ask you all to take that thought away with you today."

Paul's address was followed by an interview with three apprentices who have all begun successful careers via vocational pathways.

Joe, who now works as a Centre Support Officer at ABC Awards, shared his experience of being an apprentice. Joe said:

"I previously trained as a plumber but decided it wasn't for me and I wanted to do a business-related Apprenticeship. My local job centre helped me to find the apprenticeship with ABC Awards and I completed my Level 1 and Level 2 in Business Administration alongside my work experience.

"I've been working at ABC Awards for nearly three years now and have recently been given the additional responsibility of looking after new Centres' recognition."

Paul also interviewed apprentices from Stephenson College and Fashion Enter, who shared their stories about following their dreams by pursuing vocational careers.

Sharon, an apprentice at Fashion Enter, has just been offered a permanent job as a Technical Garment Assistant at Marks & Spencer. Talking of her experience Sharon said:

"It was a dream of mine to get into footwear; I was fortunate enough to meet Jenny Holloway the CEO of Fashion Enter two years ago and found out about their Apprenticeships. I found out last week about my full time position and I'm really excited to be able to tell you all about it."

Fashion Enter, an ABC Awards Showcase Centre, joined emfec at the reception to celebrate their excellent work and the launch of their new Fashion Technology Academy, the first of its kind in the UK.