People encouraged to enrol during Lifelong Learning Week

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street with Asha Kaur and Nick Bailey

West Midlands residents are being encouraged to take up free learning opportunities to help boost their career prospects and earning potential during Lifelong Learning Week.

Led by Learning and Work Institute and supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority the week, which this year takes place from 6 to 10 November, is an opportunity to raise the profile of lifelong learning. People with at least a level 3 qualification are more likely to be in a job and be able to earn more than those that don’t.

The week kicks off with the theme of learning for career change. Asha Kaur is one of thousands of local people who have boosted their career prospects and employability by gaining a Level 3 qualification.

After working in the manufacturing industry for many years and looking for a career change to HR, the doors of opportunity were opened for Coventry-based Asha after pursuing and achieving a CIPD Level 3 Foundation qualification in People Practice at Coventry College.

Despite feeling nervous about going back into a formal education setting after three decades away, Asha is a prime example of the rewards that can be gained by stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve your career goals and was recognised for her achievements by winning an Adult Learning Award for Step into Learning earlier this year. Asha said:

"I really pushed myself to do this course having not been in education for many years. It was challenging at times, but well worth it to achieve my ambitions of improving my life and achieving something for myself. This was my main motivation to step into the unknown and I wanted to make the most of a new opportunity to learn and grow.

"My learning journey has given me confidence and knowledge whilst gaining new skills. My family and friends have commented on the transformation in my self-esteem.

"At work I am able to question the way things are done in HR and Management. My colleagues also take me more seriously and see that I have gained knowledge.

"I feel inspired by others, sharing my knowledge with them and learning from my peers. I have met new people and learnt new things. My tutors and colleagues have been hugely supportive. Looking back now, I feel that I should have started this learning journey earlier and not been afraid."

ONS Survey figures show 59% of 16 to 64 year olds in the region are now qualified to a Level 3 (an increase from 54.9% in July 2023) and evidence shows that people with a level 3 qualification are more likely to be employed and less likely to need to claim benefits and Job vacancies that require a level 3 qualification pay more than those that don’t. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, added"

“Asha’s story proves the value of gaining a Level 3 qualification to support career progression. The WMCA has increased investment significantly in Level 3 skills training for our residents from £4.5m in 2019 to £29m in 2023.

"If local people have at least a Level 3 qualification, the evidence shows that opens up new job opportunities and boosts longer term career prospects. To encourage take up, we continue to offer learners Level 3 training free of charge if they’re earning less than £30,000.

“So if you’re a young person in the West Midlands or you’re currently in employment but seeking to upskill, I would urge you to find out more about what’s available.”

For more information about what is on offer visit the WMCA’s Level 3 training offer web pages.


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