“The job came up, I applied and I started in September. The timing was just perfect. This time last year, my confidence levels were through the floor and I was unemployed.”
This is Susan, a Wallasey resident, who transformed her life and her career, by utilising the council’s Lifelong Learning Service to retrain during the pandemic.
During the last 18 months, many people have reconsidered their careers, sought new job opportunities or invited a new challenge. Wirral’s Council’s Lifelong Learning Service supports adults to improve their skills and qualifications to help them move into the job market. The team shifted their services to provide online courses ensuring local people could continue to enhance their prospects despite COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
Susan had previously worked in a secondary school, where her interest in becoming a Teaching Assistant was sparked. However, faced with her own personal barriers and challenges, she felt unable to make this dream a reality. After listening to her needs and aspirations, Susan’s Work & Health Programme Advisor (what is this?) introduced her to the Lifelong Learning Service.
As the courses were online, Susan worked around her childcare responsibilities during lockdown and completed a qualification in supporting children and young people with learning disabilities, and a teaching assistant course.
Despite the added pressure of home - schooling, Susan described the bright side: “I think seeing their Mum learning definitely inspired my child to learn at home.
“This time last year, my confidence levels were through the floor. I was unemployed and on my own with two young children - whilst also in lockdown.
“The courses were brilliant. The tutor delivered them in a digestible way and the group was open, supportive and shared their experiences.”
Susan now has a new job as a SEND Teaching Assistant in a local secondary school.
She said: “More people need to know what Lifelong Learning do and how well they do it!”
During the 2020-21 academic year, more than 1350 local people attended community learning and qualification courses, many of them enrolling on multiple courses at a time. 66.5% of enrolments were from some of Wirral’s most disadvantaged areas.
Knowing that access to digital equipment can be a barrier to learning for many people, the Lifelong Learning Service has been loaning laptops and other digital devices to more than 100 families experiencing digital poverty.
If you're unemployed, in receipt of benefits or earn less than £18,135, courses are completely free. English, Maths, ESOL, Family Learning and IT courses are free for everyone.