This weekend it is my great pleasure and privilege to be one of the judges of the Henry Palmer Award final.
Tomorrow's activities, which include an exhibi - tion of all the entries at Great George Street, are the culmination of almost two years' work for the dozen or so teams that have got this far. And having seen the entries, they all deserve that high - est praise for their achievements.
It is the second Henry Palmer Award and, as before, challenges the brightest and most enthusias - tic graduates in the profession to come up with ideas and programmes capable of communicating their work to young people. The brief is deliberately loose to give the teams as much scope as possible for their creativity.
What amazed me this year - and two years ago for that matter - was the amount of time, commitment and effort each team put into the projects. Some of this time was kindly given by employers as part of training. Entrants also gave up their own time outside work. In most cases huge amounts of it.
Looking at the results, it was time well spent. The projects, as you would perhaps expect, are highly professional and well thought out pieces of work. And as most have already been successfully put into practice at schools across the UK, choosing a winner is in many ways beside the point.
As the teams found, virtually without exception, the personal reward from working with and enthusing people about your profession is massive. I have no doubt that the competition has given each of the team members a different outlook on their work and on their role in the profession.
My fear is what happens to these projects after Friday? For me it will be a tragedy if they are left as sim - ply short term training exercises gathering dust on a bookshelf. The best need to be picked up and given funding to ensure that they become nationally or regionally accepted schemes.
N C E will focus on the projects and the winners next week and, if possible, give help to push the best on towards the next stage in their development. But it is vital that the industry as a whole uses this work as a springboard to move forward.
So first, get down to Westmin - ster and see the exhibition. At the very least you will be surprised by the creative and lateral thought that has gone in and the commitment and passion from the teams.
But then why not think about how your company might use one or more of the ideas in its marketing, recruitment or retention strat - egy? Or how you might be able to take on or develop an idea to make it fit into an exist - ing school liaison programme that you might have?
These projects are the results of much time and effort but have been put together on a part time basis and in many cases are held together with little more than passion. They deserve to be given more time and more funding to allow real impact to be made.
Antony Oliver is the editor of NCE