Grimsby resident named finalist for vocational learner of the year award

Nicola Barber, from Grimsby has been named as a finalist for this year’s VQ Learner of the Year award for Yorkshire and the Humber region.

This is in recognition of outstanding achievement in her advanced apprenticeship in supporting teaching and learning in schools, which she studied for through North East Lincolnshire’s Community Learning Services.

After volunteering at her children’s school, Nicola set her heart on becoming a primary school teacher. Juggling the demands of two young children and a bout of illness, Nicola first supported herself through GCSEs in English and Biology. She then completed her intermediate City and Guilds Course early and is now employed at Queen Mary’s Avenue School in Cleethorpes as an apprentice teaching assistant, working towards her advanced qualification.

Nicola joins two other learners from Yorkshire and the Humber to be shortlisted for VQ Learner of the Year in the region. The regional winner, chosen from the shortlist, will then be submitted for the national VQ Learner of the Year Award.

All regional winners from around the country will be invited to a Parliamentary reception in Westminster on the June 4, and will have their award presented to them by the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP. Here, the overall, national winner – VQ Learner of the Year – will be announced.

Nicola said:

“I am so excited to be shortlisted for an award that recognises my achievement and the hard work I’ve put in. I’ve been able to benefit so much from completing a vocational qualification and would thoroughly recommend it to others. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you’re doing, there are so many training opportunities available that will help you advance your career.”

Held on the June 5, the sixth annual VQ Day will recognise the value of vocational qualifications and celebrate vocational achievement. It aims to celebrate practical and vocational achievements, not only for the individual but for UK PLC. From 16 year olds to those over 60, VQ day celebrates the acquisition of new skills and encourages parity of esteem between high quality vocational qualifications and academic ones.

Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation:

“The demand for vocational education is rising across the country, so it’s important that we demonstrate the value of these qualifications by showing how learners have been able to excel in further education and really get the edge in their chosen careers. Nicola is just one example of how these qualifications can lead to great success, and we wish her the best of luck ahead of VQ Day.”

This year, for the first time, VQ Day, will celebrate not only the successes of VQ learners, but will also recognise the UK businesses that have successfully embraced and championed technical, practical and work-related skills within their workforce.

For more information about VQ Day and the VQ Learner of the Year Awards, please visit

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