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Finding inspiration from learner stories we take a look at Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning and the examples of learner journeys and the role of lifelong learning and adult literacies as part of EPALE February focus on the benefits of adult education.
Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning is supported by the Festival of Learning and published and edited by RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacies) and ACAL (Australian Council for Adult Literacy).
The following extract from Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning, originally edited by Tara Furlong and Keiko Yasukawa, has been shortened for the purpose and use of EPALE UK.
Margaret Green, Bradford College
My name is Margaret Green. I am fifty-two years old and employed as a Supply Chain Lead for the Materials Management Department (procurement) at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
I began working at the NHS ten years ago in the laundry department; I stayed there for two years and was successful in gaining a role in the pharmacy department. This opened up a lot of opportunities for me, one of which was to participate in gaining up-to-date qualifications. This was something that I was very apprehensive about due to past experiences.
The qualification was an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Pharmacy Services. This included completing NVQ, BTEC, employment and Key Skills (English and maths level 1). I chose to enrol on a NVQ as it was work based and would enhance my knowledge and improve my confidence.
NVQs also appealed to me as I was informed that I would have a personal assessor to talk me through any queries or concerns. This was very important to me as I did not have very much confidence in myself and felt very unsure of my abilities. I also felt very reassured as I was aware it would not include an exam at the end and I could work through things at my own pace. This suited my style of learning as at the age of fifty-two going back into an education setting was well out of my comfort zone.
At first I was a little daunted by the amount of computer use but with the guidance of my assessor, Nicola Crawley, I now use my home computer with much more confidence. Using the Ecordia system was a very good way of recording my course work. It was easily retained and I could refer back to previous work quickly. This has now allowed me to be confident enough to apply and be successful in gaining my present position which involves a great deal of computer based work and knowledge, something that I once thought above me. I feel I have really acquired many skills whilst studying this NVQ. The qualifications I received when I completed the course have opened many more doors to me.
The personal impact it has had has been very positive and the feedback I received from my assessor was very encouraging as she always stated how well I had researched things. I feel it took a great deal of work to complete my course work to a standard that I felt happy with. It was not always easy. There were times I cried over it and felt that my work was not good enough, but my assessor Nicola was always there reassuring me that the work I was producing was to a very high standard. Her encouraging words kept me going. I worked most evenings and at weekends I would work day and night putting my heart and soul into the course.
My family and my assessor were extremely supportive and patient with me whilst I completed the course, and continue to support me in my new role as Supply Chain Lead. I would not have been able to apply for this role if I did not have the relevant qualifications. My families have informed me that they have noticed a change in my confidence levels and my ability to study and research. My sons are impressed with my computer skills now!
In my new role I have more responsibilities and I am now responsible for a team of nineteen staff and work across two sites. Part of my role involves recruiting staff into our department. I am able to use my skills and knowledge to assist individuals who may come across with low self-esteem and confidence issues to overcome their barriers and I now encourage them to see their own ability just as my assessor did for me.
I am so proud of myself and looking forward to continuing with my new challenge: not bad for someone who grew up with low self-esteem and confidence issues.
Overall, I can say that I would recommend an NVQ to anyone who wishes to gain qualifications but most of all; it most definitely improves knowledge of the job that you are undertaking and confidence, no matter your age or your perceived ability. The help and assistance is there, you just have to have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and accept the support to grow your future.
You can read the full version here including an insight from Margaret’s tutor.
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RaPAL is the only UK-wide organisation that focuses on the role of literacies in adult life. We promote effective and innovative practices in adult literacies teaching, learning and research; and support adult literacies practitioners and researchers. We enjoy engaging in debates that touch on English language and literacy, numeracy and digital skills across homes, communities and workplaces. Through our members, digital journals, conferences and fora, policy and advocacy work, we are active in Europe and have international links. We outline what we offer as well as how you can get involved.