11/12/2009 09:48 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

VQ Day With James Martin

Not everyone dreams of an Oxbridge education - some people are more likely to flourish at the University of Life. One such person is celebrity chef of Saturday Kitchen fame James Martin, who this year gave his support to Edge's VQ Day 2009.

Speaking about the value of practical training on the day, Martin said:
"For far too long, vocational qualifications have been seen as the poor relation to their academic counterparts. I'm glad to be part of the move to change this with VQ Day - a UK-wide annual celebration recognising the achievements of vocational learners and the colleges and learning providers that help people achieve their success.

"There are many paths to success and VQ Day is a chance for learners all over the UK to come together and celebrate their individual achievements."

In his opinion the best thing about VQ Day is that it gives Edge an opportunity to showcase the wide variety of qualifications available and highlight but the many doors a vocational qualification can open.

"As a vocational learner myself, I relish the opportunity to lend my support and get involved", said Martin.

"In these increasingly testing economic times, it is more important than ever to make sure that the UK has the right skills to see us through. A vocational qualification can set you up for life and it's great to be part of an event to celebrate the millions that take a VQ every year.

"Having had a passion for food all my life, it was clear to me from a young age that the academic path was not going to be the right one for me. Like many young people today, I dreamed of becoming a head chef. I soon realised that the only way to achieve my goal was by learning the practical skills necessary to become a top chef – something that you just can't learn from books. At 16, I enrolled at Scarborough Technical College on a catering course and I never looked back.

"My other great love is motoring, another industry which relies heavily on people with vocational qualifications. Car mechanics can't be taught in the classroom – they need real hands-on skills which can only be learnt through real hands-on experience.

I truly believe that my vocational training laid the foundations for my future career and subsequent success, and I'm really pleased that vocational qualifications are finally getting the recognition that they deserve."

Watch the highlights from the VQ Day on video

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