The Dudley News has teamed up with Dudley Council and partners to help launch the ‘Forging a Future for all’ Awards. The 12 awards will recognise people and organisations who are helping improve life in the borough.

It follows the launch of a vision for the future of Dudley which focuses on seven ambitions to create a better borough by 2030 and includes things like transport, communities, health, and education.

There‘s no greater opportunity to “Forge a Future for all” than in the area of skills and education, that‘s why Lowell Williams, chief executive officer of Dudley College of Technology and Dudley Academies Trust, is delighted to be leading this strand of work on Dudley borough’s new vision - which sets out the kind of place Dudley wants to be in 2030.

Lowell who has worked in the borough for over ten years sees the new vision as the ideal opportunity for all tiers of the education and skills system in the area to work together, with high aspirations as to what they want to achieve. That means schools, colleges, private training providers and education stakeholders such as the council all sharing a common vision as to what the very best they can aim for looks like, when it comes to providing excellent education and skills training for learners of all ages.

Whilst the starting point for future development is lower than we would like it to be Lowell himself is very clear that there is a solid foundation on which to build; with a range of outstanding primary and secondary schools, some of the highest performing sixth form and FE colleges in the country and cutting edge Apprenticeship training harnessing new technology all available in the borough the vision presents a real opportunity to accelerate the pace of progress.

But outstanding needs to be commonplace and everywhere – which it isn’t, depending on which part of the borough you live in. So the vision for 2030 must be built on the ambition to make every learning opportunity outstanding and as good as the next, wherever and however it is provided.

The vision also clearly needs to set out how it is going to be achieved as vision with no resources and concentration of efforts aligned in the same direction is an empty one. That’s why Lowell is clear the vision needs a strategic plan to underpin it in which all parties agree the actions needed to realise it, with some milestones to be achieved along the way so 2030 isn’t too far away to focus on.

There already exists some ambitious plans in place for the future with a proposal to create an Institute of Technology in Dudley, which provides higher level skills training to meet the needs of local employers, having received first stage approval. However the ambitions need to go beyond a single building and harness a collective effort which forms powerful chains of provision linking primary and secondary schools with colleges and universities to provide education that will lead to high value jobs which contribute to wealthy businesses. So a borough wide skills vision for the future must also directly align to a regional economic plan.

All of which will take a degree of civic leadership which sets aside any party-political affiliations and allows the local authority to facilitate the actions that will deliver the vision for the good of all its residents. In his role of skills lead for the Dudley Vision 2030, Lowell is committed to working tirelessly with representatives of all organisations so that this vision is not compromised and surrendered to a lesser reality because of lack of leadership and persistence.

There are 12 award categories - Improving the Local Environment: Outstanding Contribution to Education; Young Achiever; Community; Transportation; Better Connected; Rising Apprentice Star of the Year; Business of the Year; Visitor Attraction of the Year; Visitor Attraction Volunteer of the Year; Lifetime Achievement; Town Centre Ambassador of the Year.

The winners will be announced at a glitzy black tie event at Copthorne Hotel in Dudley on Tuesday, November 27.

The deadline for entries is Wednesday, October 24.

To nominate someone or to find out more visit