Now this is not a hard luck story, but the business of helping people learn whilst at work is one of those things that really animates me – almost to distraction. Some are lucky to have followed the traditional path of education in the UK and have parents/carers that know how to get their children to university and beyond. My dear old mum and dad had absolutely no idea of what a university or further eduction was, or that any of our family could get there by their own means. Well up to my mid thirties I tended to agree – or perhaps knew no different. Indeed I guess the phrase “poverty of expectation” was one that we all subscribed to, though not anymore.
With the words “and don’t bother coming back to school on Monday” my headmaster condemned me to unemployment at a tender age of fifteen. In fact my worse fear was telling my mother I had been dumped out of school. On informing her of my predicament she just uttered “you’ll just have to get a job then”; the disappointment in her voice was palpable but I am sure not unexpected. So after a while and a short time in the local laundry, an opportunity to become an apprentice printer came along. After four years, a City & Guilds, a bunch of distinctions and credits, I embarked upon a great career in the printing and graphics industry.
Now then what on earth has this got to do with promoting lifelong learning at work I hear you cry. Well having hit my mid-thirties, I worked in paper mill in both R&D & technical sales roles, that seemed to just employ new graduates in the prime positions. It wasn’t until then that I cottoned on to the importance of education for work. Needless to say my working class chippy attitude toward the graduates just sliding in to the business in good jobs with seemingly little or no effort wasn’t that helpful. Though it did create an seminal moment in my working life. Sitting there it dawned on me and after a while a decision was made to do something about it. A plan was hatched to do a post-graduate diploma in ecology (environmental issues are huge in the paper industry), though I guess you have spotted the flaw in my plan……………..I am doing a post graduate qualification without a degree!
Nevertheless, two years later with a fair amount a wailing and gnashing of teeth, a little bullying of my professor to take me on the course in the first place, I graduated with the diploma. This started a conversation with my then boss to part-fund an Open University BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology (took some persuasion as I am still in the paper mill at this point) and some additional qualifications in subjects including counselling, coaching and believe it or not hedge-laying! It didn’t stop there, the 2:1 degree from the O.U. moved on to a MSc in Occupational Psychology at Leicester University. Along with rafts of continual professional development, a PTTLS teaching qualification, an opportunity to teach undergraduates at the University of Westminster business school and onto running my own work psychology & learning business
So as I say, its not an old sob story of boy made better and none of my achievements would have been possible without unstinting support from workmates, managers and partners. There are countless tales of people at work today who have untapped potential, that with careful nurturing can achieve great things – and of course do on a daily basis. Young people sometimes don’t get education and going into work early on taking vocational qualifications can build confidence, self-esteem and valuable skills that they can utilise later on in life.
A healthy workplace can provide learning opportunities for the workforce to become the greatest commodity of the business. No one, least of all me, will say its easy but with well planned, structured and measurable learning at work we can provide a platform for new and brighter ways of problem solving, productivity and decision making. Therefore enhancing knowledge can be the power necessary to fuel workforces to perform better and to perhaps change a few lives into the bargain.
Drop me a line to discuss the range of work psychology learning & development opportunities and coaching possibilities for you and your business.