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17 January 2014

Cardiff and Vale College backs New Year, New You campaign

The stories of two students from Cardiff and Vale College are being used to showcase the benefits of re-training and learning new skills.

New Year, New You is a Welsh Government campaign part-funded by the European Social Fund and run in partnership with NIACE Dysgu Cymru (the Welsh arm of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.)

New Year, New You is being launched at a time when people traditionally resolve to improve certain aspects of their lives, such as a change of career or taking up a new course.

The campaign has been designed to make people in Wales more aware of the importance of having good skills, encourage them to think seriously about what training they need to improve their career prospects, and highlight that learning doesn't have to be expensive.

One example that the Welsh Government has used is CAVC student Amy Lewis.

Pontypridd mum Amy is living her dream after re-training following the birth of her children – to become an aircraft engineer.

The single mum-of-two from Efail Isaf, is now encouraging others to make a change by learning a new skill, as part of New Year, New You.

Amy, 30, who left school with good GCSEs and A-levels in Textiles and Art, was studying Art at college and had plans to join the RAF before she became pregnant aged 20.

The relationship with her partner broke down when their child was two, so she took a job that would pay the bills, training to be a nurse although her ambitions lay in working on aeroplanes.

“Since I was a teenager, I’d been obsessed with planes,” said Amy, mum to James, nine, and Benjamin, three.

“My dad Kim, who passed away when James was 12 weeks old, had always encouraged it – he used to take me to air shows and the viewing tower at Cardiff airport. It had always been at the back of my mind, but I thought it would be impossible to go back and study. I thought I was too old to make it happen.”

With some encouragement from her mother, Gail, aged 28 and with two children, Amy applied to study for a Level Two Diploma in Aircraft Engineering at Cardiff and Vale College’s International Centre for Aerospace Engineering at Cardiff Airport.

Now she is two years into studying for her Aerospace A Licence, and on the way to fulfilling her ambition to become an aerospace engineer.

“I love every second of it,” said Amy, who won the College’s Aeronautical Award at the end of last year. “I love being hands-on and fixing things and I’m so glad I went for it. I’ve love to one day work on my favourite aeroplanes, the C130 or a 747, and be working for British Airways, Cardiff Aviation or Boeing.

“My advice to anyone is, it really is now or never if you want the life you’ve always dreamed of. It’s been hard work, but it’s worth it every time my nine-year-old son tells me he wants to be just like me.”

The Welsh Government and NIACE Dysgu Cymru also point to former CAVC student Sam Harrison.

Former Army soldier Sam, who is from Barry, was made redundant after he left the forces but is now making a name for himself in the competitive world of IT.

Following four years as an infantry soldier, Sam took on an apprenticeship in vehicle mechanics, but was made redundant aged 22 and left wondering what to do with his future.

 “The Army was the making of me,” said Sam, now 24.

“It taught me to grow up from a naughty school boy who messed around and didn’t go to classes.

“But it took about two years for me to adjust. I was used to getting up at the break of dawn, and the discipline. After that went, I felt really lost.”

Sam took a job as a care worker, then heard about a computing course at Cardiff and Vale College.

And despite having no IT qualifications, he soon completed a Level Two Diploma and was achieving so many Distinction grades he was able to bypass the Level Three course – going straight into an HND in computing in just a year.

Now Sam works four days a week as an IT Coordinator Apprentice at MPCT military training academy at Cardiff Gate, studying at college once a week.

“I love IT because no day is the same,” he said. “In many ways, that’s like the Army.”

He added: “I’m glad I went into the Army before I went to college as it gave me so many skills and taught me that failing is not an option.It also became this safety blanket , you always had food in your stomach and something constructive to do, and I found myself struggling to identify with friends who had been to college, and wondering what I could do next.

“But there’s life after the Army and there’s always something new to learn. I like to think I’ll never stop learning.”

To find out how you can learn something new, go to www.YourFutureChoiceAction.org.uk, or call 0800 100 900 today.

If you know an inspirational learner or tutor, nominate them for the Inspire Learning Awards 2014 at niacedc.org.uk before the deadline ends in February.

This New Year, New You campaign has been part-funded by the European Social Fund  through the Welsh Government.