Getting Vocal about Vocational Training

Ealing student represents hospitality sector at Royal Opera House National Skills Event

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An Ealing & West London College student chef was hand picked to represent the hospitality industry last week, at a national event to raise awareness of vocational training and qualifications: VQ Day.

21-year-old Chirag Motivaras, from India, is studying a post-graduate diploma in Hospitality Management and is an intern for budget London hotel brand, Umi. When the hotel was approached to provide a cooking demonstration at the Royal Opera House this week, Chirag was selected to take part. Umi owner and founder Steve Lowy jumped at the chance to take a hospitality student to the event.

VQ Day took place on Wednesday 23 July and was the first ever national celebration of vocational success - a celebration of the people who gain vocational qualifications every year and those who help them achieve this success. 

The day of demonstration events, the largest of which was this one at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, aimed to raise the profile, and communicate the value, of vocational qualifications to future students, potential employers and the wider public. A range of interactive displays from colleges, learning providers and employers made up seven 'zones' and demonstrated 'vocational excellence'.

Guests included Shadow Skills Secretary of State David Willetts and singer and Strictly Come Dancing winner Alesha Dixon. Alesha, who has taken a vocational qualification herself, presented at the event and chatted to Chirag and the other interns.

Chirag and his fellow Umi interns prepared carpaccio of salmon with a pear puree, Sacotinno di Parma ham with balsamic glaze and a courgette cream, followed by homemade tiramisu.

"I felt that coming to London was the central hub of Hospitality and would allow me to learn a huge amount and to experience different cultures and working practices," said Chirag.

Umi founder Steve Lowy dreams of one day opening a fully operational hotel run by hospitality students and is strong supporter of vocational training. He works with instutions like Ealing & West London College and Thames Valley University to not only train his own staff, but to help interns gain the practical experience they need to match the theory they learn in the classroom.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the hospitality industry to showcase the value of vocational training and qualifications to the next generation of Jamie Olivers and Angela Hartnetts," said Steve, himself a BA Hospitality & Tourism Management graduate.

Other demonstrations included a stone masonry display, a demonstration of theatre make up and a construction challenge.

To find out more about VQ Day visit or



February 15, 2008