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Adult Education: Karen Woodland


Karen Woodland- Community Learning Coordinator at Middlesbrough College shares her experience:

Over the past 8 years I have worked within the adult education sector in a supportive role. This has involved providing support to those looking to gain a qualification that will help them find a new direction in life. I’ve witnessed first-hand how helping people who are unemployed gain new skills can transform their lives and their families lives.

Our region has been hit hard in the past, with industry closures such as Redcar Steelworks meaning people have had to learn new skills and adapt to secure new employment opportunities. My position has involved working closely with the Tees Valley Combined Authority to fill skills shortages in the area. It’s a privilege to be involved in the sector and make a difference to those that really need support.

In November 2018 my position was unfortunately made redundant from a private training provider, putting a strain on family finances, I was feeling low and as a result my mental health suffered. I was experiencing the struggles that go along with being out of work. Thankfully this was only for a short time.

In February 2019 I was successful in gaining employment with Middlesbrough College within Adult and Community Learning Department. I’m currently the Coordinator of Community Learning, offering training and employment opportunities to our Tees Valley community. The training is delivered both in the College and in the wider community. The courses that are offered include: construction, Warehousing and Storage, Fork Lift Truck Operations and Health and Care. The team also offer more practical skills to help people find work such as: CV writing, how to look for work using social media and interview techniques. We also have a member of the team who contacts local businesses to try and find vacancies for the learners to apply for and supports the employer and learners with the whole process.

At Middlesbrough College, staff are encouraged to develop their skills continuously. The College offers online learning which is open to staff and the general public. I have completed: Information Advice and Guidance Level 2, Equality and Diversity Level 2 and Data Protection and Security Level 2. There are a number of free courses available to anyone either in work or unemployed at no cost on the Middlesbrough College website.

I also completed a level 3 qualification in Adult Education and Training. This qualification has given me the skills to teach adults. I had to attend classes once per week on a night. I really enjoyed meeting new people, and it gave me a huge amount of confidence to learn a new skill and a sense of pride to gain a qualification. It helps mental health and has made me more confident in my role at work. I have experienced what our learners go through and can empathise with any struggles they have within their journey.

Since completing the course I have gained confidence and have an improved underpinning knowledge of education and take a more hands on approach within the classroom. I’ve enrolled onto another course since completing to further enhance my skills and I would recommend further learning to anyone either in work or unemployed.