Whether you want to retrain to boost employment opportunities or for personal interest, access to learning is getting easier for Army families. With a range of funding options available and the ability to study flexibly and remotely around the demands of military life, signing up to a course could be the exactly what your CV needs. Caroline Mayne, AFF Employment & Training Specialist, explains more…
Frequent moves, overseas postings and childcare issues can be barriers to spouses and partners wanting to continue their learning journey.
You’ll also need to consider what will happen if your soldier is posted early or is deployed, so find out whether the course is open-ended or flexible; can you transfer it? Are there exams and will there be tutor or peer support?
Your training provider/college can help answer these questions. The important thing is to research before your enrol.
ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION DIPLOMAS
There are colleges nationwide who run Access to Higher Education (HE) Diplomas, with 1,100 courses available in a wide range of subjects, from business to engineering to childcare. Many of these courses can be done via distance learning. Go to www.accesstohe.ac.uk and www.apted.org.uk to find out more.
SKILLS FOR LIFE
The Army provides courses for our serving partners but there are also opportunities for spouses to improve their reading, writing, maths or ICT skills. These can lead to a better job or to further study such as National Vocational Qualifications.
The National Careers Service website has an excellent section on learning and can help you find your nearest training providers – visit www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk
HOW WILL I FUND MY COURSE?
This is one of the most frequent questions I receive. Here are some tips to guide you:
- If you are over 24, you may be able to get a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan to pay the fees for courses at Levels 3 and 4, repayable only on successful completion of an HE course and when you are earning more than £21k/year.
- Studying specific courses, such as in the health sector or teaching, may make you eligible for a bursary or grant.
- You can apply for a loan for Higher Education (such as a degree) through Student Finance England, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Student Finance Wales or Student Finance NI. If you are posted overseas and are having difficulty getting this funding, then let AFF know as this is a Covenant issue which we are working on.
- If you are already in employment, you may be able to ask your employer to fund the training if it will bring benefit to the company.
- You may also be able to apply for an Educational Support Grant at www.civvystreet.org and the Royal British Legion Women’s Section can also award grants for training at www.rblws.org.uk
There are free online courses that will not only enhance your CV but could give you the confidence to get back into learning or employment. The Open University’s www.futurelearn.com and www.open.edu/openlearn is a great place to start looking with courses from CV writing to zoology.
AFF WORKING FOR YOU
We have been talking to a number of training providers about Army life and how it can have an impact on spouses and partners.
Organisations such as The Open University and those in areas with an established Armed Forces presence, such as Stafford College and Anglia Ruskin University, have reassured us that they are committed to supporting Forces families.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with us examples of your learning that you think might be useful to other Army families.