How one woman learns to be a leader – for free

Vernetta Clarke’s career took a dramatic turn in the months leading up to the pandemic. After 19 years in the hospitality industry, she was fired in December 2019.

After a brief stint at an employment agency, Vernetta finally landed the role she loved—sales manager for the conventions and events department at a local hotel. But three weeks later, when quarantine came, she lost her job. Moreover, she found out that she was pregnant.

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Moving on… Vernetta has acquired the skills needed to advance her career.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m pregnant and unemployed, what should I do?

To fill a gap on her resume, Vernetta, now 37, began studying various training courses until her sister told her in July about a free Level 3 (equivalent to Level A) qualification in leadership and management at Weston College. governments Free courses for work program.

It is a common misconception that investing in your career must be a time-consuming and costly process. For adults looking to change course or give themselves a shot at promotion, the idea of ​​spending a lot of money learning new skills can be daunting.

Courses are offered in a range of employer-demanded subjects, including accounting, adult care, construction, engineering, childcare, and many more. In addition, many of them work part-time, which provides flexibility that is critical for people like Vernetta.

Free Level 3 qualifications give learners the skills employers are looking for. The offer is open to anyone in England aged 19 and over and will not cost a penny if you do not already have an A level equivalent qualification. From April you will also be eligible if you are earning less than the national living wage the minimum per year (£18,525) or are unemployed, even if you already have a qualification equivalent to level A or higher.

My personal life has been hectic by definition,” Vernetta says of starting her course in 2021. But she was able to combine work with her duties as a mother of two small children. Although things got a little more complicated when she landed a new job in the hospitality industry last fall, Vernetta was still able to make it work.

“I just had to be very self-disciplined. My whole family is rooting for me and we have a group on the course where we all support each other,” says Vernetta, who continued to work on the Level 3 qualification after finding a job to expand her career opportunities.

Not all professions have built-in professional development programs, so attending such courses can be a way to prove that you are ready to move into managerial and leadership positions.

At the same time, the qualification is recognized by employers in many industries as its practical focus is on how to manage projects, people and relationships.

This gives Vernetta the ability to move sectors in the future if she chooses to do so. “It’s really about expanding my knowledge. I have leadership and management experience, but mostly from the same sector.

“If you only know one way of doing things, you won’t see that there are other ways of doing things,” says Vernetta. She points to her classmates, who come from all sorts of backgrounds, and each brings something different to their interactive sessions.

“My resume was filled with experience, but not education. If I ever wanted to work in retail or real estate, I would know different ways of leading and managing thanks to the skills I learned from this course.”

Now with a Level 3 qualification in leadership and management, Vernetta opens doors that were previously closed. She has both the confidence and the skills to get promoted and raise her salary.

Free employment courses are just one of the publicly funded ways available to help people get skills for life. There are also “earn as you learn” apprenticeships and intensive skills development courses available for adults of all ages.

For Vernetta, this opportunity to continue learning was one of the best things about taking her course, along with gaining confidence in her career development and making friendships along the way.

“You’re never too old to learn a new skill – so why not?”

If you are not sure which opportunity is right for you, the National Career Service will provide free personal advice and guidance on learning, studying and working for anyone in England. Its qualified advisors will help you think about your needs, make informed decisions about your future and take the next step towards achieving your goals.


For more information on these and other courses available, visit the website gov.uk/skillsforlife

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