Joshua Maxwell from Newtownabbey, a Hospitality and Catering student at Belfast Metropolitan College’s Titanic campus, has been recognised as a finalist in the Northern Ireland VQ Learner of the Year and Employer of the Year awards on Vocational Qualification (VQ) Day 2013.
At an awards ceremony held in Parliament Buildings, Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry announced the winners and finalists.
Joshua, 21, worked at Deanes @ Queens in south Belfast and received high praise from his nominators for the prestigious award.
Thomas Turley from Belfast Metropolitan College said: “Joshua, who began his fourth consecutive year studying at BMC in September 2012, has gained the knowledge and confidence to complete Level 2 and 3 qualifications and progress on to higher education through the range of qualifications gained in both food production and service. During his studies he also gained valuable part-time employment and work experience from various award winning hospitality establishments.
“Joshua also represented Belfast Metropolitan College as a finalist at the Belfast Dragon’s Den where he got the chance to present his idea of opening his dream restaurant.”
Congratulating the VQ Learner of the Year winner and finalists, the Minister said: “Skills and knowledge are widely accepted as key in the modern economy and have an important part to play if we in Northern Ireland are to achieve our goal of rebuilding and rebalancing the local economy. If Northern Ireland is to compete in the global market there must be a concerted effort to drive up skills on all fronts. Vocational qualifications have a vital role to play in this regard.”
Joshua’s second nominator for the award, Chris Fearon from Deanes @ Queens in south Belfast, said: “Joshua Maxwell is a credit to Belfast Metropolitan College and Northern Ireland. His passion and leadership are evident and he will stop at nothing to reach his goal. Josh has had a great time networking with various local and London celebrity chefs, all of whom have encouraged him and given him an insight into becoming a young professional chef. I have worked closely with Josh in our busy kitchen and it has been a pleasure to have such an eager prodigy.
“His vocational studies have been the back bone and making of this young entrepreneur. He has embraced the chance to compete against many of the UK’s top colleges and hospitality students, and has beaten off stiff competition to gain the coveted gold medal standard at last year’s Ifex hospitality awards show.”
VQ Day is a UK-wide celebration of the achievement of the millions of people, who gain a vocational qualification every year.