A group of adults studying

Making the most of adult learning opportunities – National Careers Week

When I saw that this awareness week was coming up I just knew that I wanted to write about it from an adult learning perspective, it fitted nicely with something I have been planning to scribble about for a while.

This week 4th to 9th March is National Careers Week. The event, founded by a number of volunteers with a combined wealth of experience from the education, business and careers guidance sectors, is run as a not for profit organisation.

The aim of this awareness week is to promote the importance of good careers education in schools and colleges to ensure that people understand the links between courses, skills and pathways that are opened up through college education for both young people starting out on their career path and adult learners who are re-skilling to return to work or change careers. 

I was wondering, do you ever feel that some of your early life choices left you, in later years, feeling as though you missed out?

Don’t misunderstand me, this is not about regretting decisions from the past, goodness no, just perhaps feeling like there just wasn’t enough time to do it all, and not enough information available to really make the most of it at the time.

At my school we had the choice to study either, history or geography, never both. So, as a young teenager, I and many others were pressured to decide, in our 15 year old wisdom which one we felt would be best. 

Now, I don’t know about you but as an impressionable teenager my decision-making skills were not all that great, so naturally just like everyone else in my class I commenced the sacred ‘Eenie Meenie Miney Mo’ ritual and fate provided geography.

Looking back, did I make the wrong decision to use such a fickle process? Yes, probably. I have not had much use for my rudimental understanding of geography so far and an understanding of historical facts would certainly come in pretty useful on quite a few occasions when I am writing, but I couldn’t have known that this is where I would end up and so let’s not be too hard on my teenage self.

Let’s instead be a little harder on those who were there to advise and steer us. I feel they could have been a little more forthcoming with some “bigger picture” information. Were they not concerned that hundreds of kids were all relying on a rhyme and a pointy finger to decide what they would learn for two years? Where was the adult intervention? 

After high school, still undecided about where I wanted to end up for sure, and still lacking any real “bigger picture” insight I went on to college to study various A-levels with the intension of choosing a career path and an associated University course afterwards.

Typically, one hasty decision led to another and it turned out that University was not destined to be a stop along my life path after all. Now quite a few years on it turns out that I have survived just fine without a History GCSE or a University degree but there are times where I feel like maybe I missed out, just a little bit.

Every couple of months or so, I find myself considering returning to higher education then dismissing it, followed by considering it just to yet again dismiss it. My indecision is not because I keep changing my mind about going but because I find it impossible to decide what it is that I want to learn.

The truth is, now I want to learn everything and just can’t decide whether I should learn something that would contribute to my career or something that would feed my insatiable hunger for information that makes me marvel. 

I don’t expect to decide anytime soon, no doubt I will keep playing with the idea on and off for a while but isn’t it amazing that I even have the luxury of study indecision at this stage of my life. 

There are so many options open to us, no matter how old you are or what decisions you made earlier in life, education really is now accessible to all and thanks to awareness weeks like National Careers Week our young and future generations will have a much better understanding of the bigger picture and adult learners will no longer feel as though they missed out first time around.

Wondering how you can make the most of adult learning opportunities? Look what I found while researching my own future educational options.

National Careers Service – Find college courses in your area.

City & Guilds Vocational training – A City & Guilds qualification can be the perfect way to boost your career.

Higher education – Which, provide a free independent way to search and compare University courses.

English, Maths and I.T. functional skills – Access free English and Maths courses here.

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