So, the time has come. The management of my health conditions has reached the stage where I feel I could consider a job outside of the house. Bear starts school in September so that’s a big obstacle out of the way. Now I just need to explore what kind of job I can physically manage from a pain and fatigue stand point. It’s time. Retraining after being mummy.
My background is childcare. I have explored nearly all positions in and around the genre – I have been a nanny, a maternity nurse, a nursery nurse recruitment consultant and I have taught and assessed the NVQ level 1, 2 and 3 in childcare and development. Lots of experience but some things are just too much now. Being a hands on child carer is out of reach. I do not have the stamina or physical capabilities anymore. I can’t deal with an 18 month olds need to be carried or wrestling an unhappy child into a car seat or pushchair.
I’d love to work in a school but the small chairs and bending down to the children’s height will just kill my back. In a more physical job, I don’t think I could be reliable enough to ensure that I’ll not be letting people down with my attendance.
Where do I go from here? Well. The Job Centre first. My job centre has a ‘Single Parent Advisor’ who, as the job title suggests, is there to help people like myself, and is especially aware of and sympathetic to the additional obstacles that we may face. I also see the Disability Advisor.
I have been to visit the advisor and discussed my options (or lack of!) before but at my last meeting, I was offered a place on some courses to update my work skills and knowledge and get some more ‘on paper’ qualifications that will hopefully show prospective employers that I am serious about a position, committed and current. The courses are quite basic – Level 1 to be exact and as I hold a number of Level 3 qualifications, my advisor noted that they will be really easy but that doesn’t really affect whether or not I should do these courses as they will refresh my knowledge and almost be like a guarantee to see employers – I can tell people that I know how to perform certain roles but these qualifications show that someone else agree’s that I can.
I was really lucky that I didn’t have long to wait before a place came up on the first course, and here I am, in the middle of my first course, a City and Guilds Level 1 Award in Business Administration.
This course, in my part of the country, is held over 5 days – 3 days in one week, 2 the following, from 9am to 4pm. It’s also quite local to me as well which is handy.
I was really apprehensive about the first day. I thought that I was going to be like a fish out of water and with a load of people that didn’t really want to be there but I needn’t have worried, my classmates are a 4 other women of a similar age to me and we all want to be here. We’ve all studied to a higher standard but recognise the relevance of the course.
Our advisor is brilliant. We all want to get the work done and so it’s really relaxed and there’s no being talked down to.
Yes, some of the evidence that we need to show is so, so basic – we need to write a letter and make sure that we create it correctly ie: the address in the right place, the correct salutation and corresponding end to the letter, making a professional phone call and even, photocopying a piece of paper. To pass one part, I need to photocopy a piece of paper. However, even though I know how to do all of these things, there can be more too it and just going over it brings it all to the forefront of my mind. We’ve all spent a lot of the course remarking “oh yes, I remember that” and “oh, I forgot that”.
During breaks we are checking the local job sites and suddenly, some jobs will open up to us. I recently saw a job advertised that would have been the perfect job for me. I applied and did my best to tailor my application form and covering letter to the role but I didn’t hear back, the job was to begin mid April and so I think I can safely say that I won’t be getting an interview. I have been quite pragmatic about it but I did think I was more than qualified for the role. Now, having done this course, I realise that it’s having a qualification like this, no matter how low the level is, will be able to tell future employers that I have these skills, better than I can. I didn’t think to include in my application that I can fulfil some of the more basic tasks as i just presumed everyone could do them and that it was a given, but if there were 2 cv’s next to each other and one had the qualification and the other didn’t, obviously, I know the qualified one would stand a better chance at getting an interview.
I have 2 more days left to complete on this course and then I begin the City and Guilds Level 1 Qualification in Customer Service. Last night I started a ECDL course which is the European Computer Driving Licence and again, means that I have a piece of paper that says I have a level of computer skill. I know it sounds like I am just ticking boxes and in a way, I am but that is the way of the world now. There are so many people competing for jobs and these courses can be the difference between me and another candidate getting a job.
Now, as I have the bug and am eligible for funding, I’m going to do my Maths and English, despite getting good grades at GCSE, as, well, lets face it, that was 20, TWENTY years ago! Oh. My. God. How on earth did that happen?!!
I’m also really excited as it turns out that my Assessor qualifications are in demand as not so many people seem to have them. I have been asked to produce my CV and send it to the company that is delivery these courses. Fingers crossed!!