Welsh woman kickstarts new career after spending two years caring full-time for her grandmother thanks to Welsh Government’s Personal Learning Account
Helen Minns from Cwmbran made the difficult decision to return to work during a family illness
A 44-year-old mother to two teenagers has changed her career after caring for her grandmother full time.
Having only recently started working again, Helen decided to study a Health and Safety course on the Welsh Government’s Personal Learning Account programme to help support her family in a new and exciting role.
Helen has since gone on to gain a full-time position as a Health & Safety assistant and is enjoying rebuilding her career around her new family dynamic.
Helen said: “During my marriage, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to care for my grandmother at a time when she was diagnosed with Dementia. It was and still is a difficult time, but I’m so glad I was able to be there for her.”
But Helen went through a divorce three years ago, which prompted her return to employment. She continued: “Thankfully, another family member was able to take on the caring role when my own family circumstances changed, which meant I could begin looking for a job.”
After a while, Helen secured a health and safety role, which was not something she had ever worked in before or had planned to get into.
“It wasn’t the job I had initially applied for. But when I interviewed at Melin Homes, they thought I would be ideal for a role in the health and safety team to cover some maternity leave. When the contract ended, I was hired in the company permanently, but in a different team.”
After having worked in her newer role at the company for a period of time, Helen was evaluating what area of work she wanted to do in the long term and made the decision to try and get back into a health and safety role once again.
Helen said: “When I worked in health and safety, I found my work interesting and engaging, so decided that I wanted to return to and pursue a career in it. It’s also an area of work that will always be in demand, which appealed to me too.
“A lot of jobs advertised in the industry often ask for a NEBOSH (National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety) qualification as a standard, so I began looking for places where I could complete the course to improve my skillset.”
The NEBOSH course is a globally recognised qualification that gives you knowledge of key concepts relating to health and safety, including the laws and legislations surrounding it.
“Initially, I was looking to pay for a course and was saving up to fund this qualification for myself. But when I contacted Coleg Gwent to enquire about the NEBOSH course there, they told me I would be eligible for a Personal Learning Accounts programme funded by the Welsh Government.”
Personal Learning Accounts help adults in Wales study part-time around their existing work and family commitments.
Fully funded by the Welsh Government, the programme provides free and flexible courses to help learners gain the skills and qualifications they need to progress in their current or new career.
A Personal Learning Account is available to adults in Wales who are aged 19 and above, in employment and earning under £29,534, or are at risk of being made redundant.
There is no earning cap of £29,534 on approved courses or qualifications in digital or green skills.
Over 30,000 people have signed up for a Personal Learning Account course since its launch in 2019, and the programme’s most popular courses include Health & Safety, Health and Social Care, Project Management, Accounting, Information Technology, Digital Marketing, Vehicle Repair and Maintenance.
Helen commends the multiple benefits of her Personal Learning Account, praising its ability to lead her to a new career and how it easily fitted into her schedule alongside existing commitments as a mother and full-time employee.
She continued: “Accessing the Personal Learning Account was incredibly easy for me. All I had to do was fill out a form online, and within a couple of phone calls everything was set up and ready to go. The access to the course was incredibly straightforward.”
“I like that there isn’t a time limit set on it. As long as you finish the course content and pass the exam at the end of the year, that’s all you need to do. There is no pressure on you to complete certain parts of it at a specific time. I think it’s great that I can do it as and when I want to.
“My course is being delivered online, so I don’t have to turn up to a classroom each week. My classes are all online so I can pick it up and drop it whenever I have a spare 30 mins, which fits around my life.
“It’s been a huge benefit to me that I haven’t needed to pay for it, as I could access the course immediately rather than waiting until I’d put aside some money for it.”
Helen began her Personal Learning Account course in May 2022 and will continue it into next year alongside her new permanent role.
“The original position in Health and Safety at Melin Homes became available again. I’ve just secured this role in the past few weeks after proving my interest in the subject with my ongoing Personal Learning Accounts, so will be returning to health and safety sooner than I’d anticipated!
She aims to complete subsequent qualifications and continue upskilling herself throughout her career.
For more information, advice and guidance, search Working Wales Personal Learning Account, visit your nearest Careers Wales Centre or call the team via 0800 028 4844.
Alternatively, you can chat with an adviser using Webchat or email the team at [email protected]