Knowledge through further education
Many of us consider going back to education later in life, but it can seem a daunting prospect. There are many benefits to further education such as learning new skills or trades which could improve your career options. But you may ask, is it right for you? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. There has been a 14%* rise in vocational learning over the past year and nearly 30% of all university applicants last year were over 21**.

This week I spent some time with one of our tradesmen, Stephen Courtney, who has decided to take the plunge and head back to university.

Tell us about your background
I worked at the Home Office for 15 years. I started out as a labourer, worked my way up to foreman until I was eventually managing projects up to £1/2 million in value. I thought I’d be there for life and then all of a sudden they shut a lot of the buildings and I was made redundant.

Why did you choose to go back and study?
I was trying to find a project management job, but I couldn’t get anything because I didn’t have the relevant qualifications. I chose to go back into education so I could get back into project management of some sort.

How are you funding your course?
I’m taking an accountancy course, so to help me through I applied for a student loan. I’ll get my tuition and living allowance paid for and will be required to pay it back once I start earning a certain amount.

And what about the future?
I’m open-minded about what path I’m going to take. I’m not looking to become an accountant; it’s project management I’m looking at long term. The degree begins by covering a wide range of topics then later on you decide what to specialise in.

How are you going to balance your work with your studies?
It’s going to be difficult, but I chose a university local to me, which is also where a lot of my customers are. Study times are varied; I might have a day off in the week or start at midday so I should be able to fit some work in.

What effect do you think this will have on your career?
Hopefully massive. A good mix of experience and qualifications is vital. There’s not a lot I don’t know about building, but it’s difficult to get them to agree to give you the work without the right piece of paper. I have qualifications, but the work is so competitive that it’s always great to get another qualification – it adds another string to the bow really.

View Stephen Courtney’s MyBuilder profile 

If you are interested in getting back into education follow the links below for more information.

City & Guilds Vocational Qualifications
UCAS Mature Students Advice
Student Loans Company

Sources: *City &Guilds **UCAS