Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reasons to Be Cheerful; Just the Job

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reasons to Be Cheerful; Just the Job

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE CROCKETT

It's not all doom and gloom on the skills front as the Government pumps u1.6 billion into helping adults get the tuition they badly need, says Kate Crockett

POOR basic skills among adults cost the Government and UK businesses up to u10 billion each year. For this reason, the Government has made it a priority and granted u1.6 billion to the sector over the next three years, via its basic skills agency, to boost the number of adults achieving the maths, English and computer literacy levels required to function in society and in the workplace. On the frontline, delivering the training, are staff in basic skills and ESOL (English as a second language) units such as those at Harlington adult education centre in Hillingdon. Here, three of the Harlington team describe their pivotal roles.

'Adult learners bring with them all their life experiences'

Jackie Pullin, 37, workplace-based skills tutor and co-ordinator Experience: Joined Harlington in October 2001 having worked as a community-based learning adviser for the West London IAG Partnership, delivering further education guidance to adults. Pullin has also worked for a training provider helping unemployed adults back into jobs, and has a TESOL (teaching English as a second language) qualification. She is studying for her certificate in education at the University of Westminster.

Job: Pullin delivers onsite instruction in pre-GCSE English, maths, ESOL and keyboard skills to company employees in Hillingdon borough, in sectors such as care, distribution and cleaning services, which the Government is keen to "up skill".

She says: "I am using European Social Fund [ESF] project money to provide basic workplace skills. I teach at a variety of companies but it tends to be sectors that employ the old low-skilled workers; even low-skilled workers now need good communication and basic keyboard skills."

As well as teaching many of the courses, Pullin is in charge of brokering the programmes, by persuading companies of the benefits of her fully funded courses. She says: "You are up against barriers, such as if the company will pay the employee during training, and how beneficial it is to the employer.

In lots of jobs they will say their staff don't need to read or write, so it's quite controversial." Best bits: "Adult learners are always interesting and always a challenge. They bring with them all their life experiences, so there is always something to learn from the adults you are teaching, which is great. The companies I have worked with have said what they get back in motivation is priceless, and also employees really feel they are being valued."

'I don't have to do anything physical, all I have to do is communicate' Roy Connell, 39, basic skills volunteer tutor Experience: Connell retired from fulltime employment 15 years ago due to disability, but still wanted to work on a voluntary basis. …

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