Kate Nash and Jamie Oliver have been nominated for an award honouring vocational qualifications.

The Foundations singer had criticised academic snobbery while accepting her best female artist award at this year's Brit Awards and used her vocational qualification to help her launch her bid for stardom.

And celebrity chef Oliver's vocational qualification was also instrumental in his rise to tackling the health of the nation's schoolchildren and helping youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds into the catering industry.

As a result, Nash and Oliver, along with Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold and hairdresser Charles Worthington, have been nominated for the first VQ Hero awards, due to be handed out at the Royal Opera House on VQ Day on July 23rd.

Nash graduated from the Brit school in Croydon - which also launched the careers of Amy Winehouse, Adele and The Kooks - and used her Brit awards acceptance speech to stress that university attendance is not the only route to success.

"It's really important to have arts in education because not everybody is academic and not all of us get into university life, but don't worry if you don't," she told the audience at London's Earl's Court in February.

And learning of her nomination today, the Mouthwash singer added: "Not everybody is academic and not all of us want to go to university, therefore it's great that vocational qualifications are now getting the recognition they deserve through VQ Day.

"My vocational qualification was the springboard to my current success and I'm thrilled to be considered for a VQ Hero Award."

Gold, meanwhile, said she was a "walking example of someone who didn't need an academic degree to succeed".

"I can't wait to see everyone else with vocational qualifications receive the recognition I have," she added.

The public can vote for which star they believe deserves the celebrity VQ award at vqday.org

Awards will also be presented to two non-celebrity VQ Heroes, one going to an over-25 and one for a person under 25 who has benefited from a vocational qualification.

07/06/2008 00:01:03