Free opportunities for care workers to improve skills now available

Posted on: 7 September 2018

Devon County Council is offering workers in the health and social care sector and job seekers wishing to enter the profession the chance to learn new maths and English skills for free.

Enrolment is open for ‘Flex2Learn’ which enables care workers across Devon to improve their skills and gain qualifications through flexible and online learning.

The project is designed to help them fit study around work and family commitments.

The courses on offer are English, English for Speakers of other languages (ESOL) and maths. They will also be available to job seekers who want to enter the profession and existing social care and health staff in both the private and public sector. This includes staff in care providers, residential and nursing homes and in the NHS.

The courses will be run by Learn Devon, Devon County Council’s adult education service and are free. However if you earn above a £15,736.50 pa threshold, ESOL courses do incur a cost.

The roll-out of the project follows a successful joint bid with Dorset and Somerset County Councils for Department for Education funding in May.

Once enrolled, and depending on their circumstances and abilities, each learner will be assigned to a method of study or ‘learning cohort’.

These are either 100% classroom based, a mix of classroom and online study, 100% online learning and learners with additional needs.

English and maths classes will run for two hours while ESOL is three hours. They will take place at a time when leaners can easily get to venues, access public transport or arrange childcare.

All learners will have individual learning plans which form a ‘route map’ of how a learner will get from their starting point on a learning journey to the desired end-point.

Content for the maths course will include skills such as numbers, fractions, decimals, percentages, common measure, using shape and space, or handling data while English will include the skills of communication, reading and writing used in everyday situations.

Learners participating in the Flex2Learn project will complete their courses by July 2019. They will be assessed throughout to ascertain their understanding, so will be set work to complete as well as writing exams at the nearest Learn Devon centre to them.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with

Cllr Rufus Gilbert

Cllr Rufus Gilbert

responsibility for skills, economy and Learn Devon, said: “Health and social care staff are dedicated and highly valued and many want to learn new skills or improve existing ones to help them with their personal development and career opportunities. However varied shift patterns and irregular hours can make it difficult to attend regular training and courses. This can limit their progress and prevent people from reaching their potential.

“Flex2Learn has been specifically designed to suit shift workers, those who have caring responsibilities and those who are preparing to return to work. A more skilled workforce leads to improved wages and ultimately a stronger economy.”

Romanian Roxana Culcer, 34, came to the UK four years ago to work in a care home. She had several years nursing experience in Romania but and could speak only a little English.

She said: “At work, I lost my confidence as I found I was struggling to communicate as effectively in English as I did in Romanian. I was unable to enunciate some sounds which were absent in my mother tongue and it was affecting my interaction with people at work.

“A colleague recommended I try Learn Devon, so I joined hoping to overcome these difficulties and regain my confidence. At first, I just wanted to improve pronunciation but very soon I became interested in working on my grammatical accuracy as well, to improve my speaking and writing skills at work.

“The course has definitely helped my confidence. My hope is to eventually become a hospital nurse here in the UK, so I plan to continue studying ESOL.

“The course was useful, the tutor patient, kind and expertly guiding me towards my goals.”

For more information please contact Learn Devon’s Exmouth office on 01395 223 851 and ask to speak to the Flex2Learn Project Officer. More info is available here.

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