Thousands of people across Wales are now eligible for free training to rewrite their career by setting up a Personal Learning Account.
As part of the Welsh Government programme, colleges in Wales collectively now offer more than 1,000 free courses across sectors that are ripe for job opportunities, including construction, finance, IT, health and safety, project management and engineering.
The programme is aimed at those who are currently on furlough, on a zero hours contract, or whose job is at risk, providing they are 19 or over and earning under £26,000.
Following a successful pilot with Coleg Gwent and Grwp Llandrillo Menai which saw around 500 people across Wales enrol on fully-funded part-time courses, Personal Learning Accounts are now being rolled out nationally to help thousands of people in Wales boost their skills and employability.
All courses have been specifically designed to match skills gaps already identified in priority sectors in Wales. Employers and stakeholders have worked in partnership with colleges to develop courses that are relevant to sectors which are expected to create job opportunities now or in the near future.
All courses are part-time and are truly flexible, designed for study around other commitments such as a current job. Many are being delivered online meaning learners can study remotely and in the evenings and weekends.
Minister for Education Kirsty Williams said: “The impact of the pandemic has unfortunately affected many industries, with many people looking at ways to gain new work skills, perhaps at their local college.
“Personal Learning Accounts are designed to help people in employment and whose jobs may be at risk. If you’re worried about the certainty of your employment, or you’re on furlough or a zero hours contract, accessing a free Personal Learning Account could provide you with the skills and qualifications to embark on a new and rewarding career.
“As we work towards a Welsh right to lifelong learning, the PLAs show what can be achieved for individuals, the economy and the country as a whole.”
Callum Wareham from Rhondda Cynon Taf was able to accelerate his career within the Civil Service through taking up a Personal Learning Account with Coleg Gwent. To date he’s completed Agile Project Management, PRINCE2 and ITIL 4 courses, gained a promotion and is now on track to increase his salary.
Callum said: “I was really lucky to get a job in the Civil Service, especially as I hadn’t done any project management before. I really enjoyed it, but because it was new to me, I had to learn everything from scratch, and I lacked confidence in my work. I wanted to work my way up to a project manager role, but I’d accepted that it was going to take time to learn everything I needed to know on the job. Until I found out about Personal Learning Accounts.
“Taking up a Personal Learning Account has already opened doors for me and given me the confidence and initiative to teach myself if there’s something I don’t understand or want to learn more about. It came at a great time for me because I’m working from home at the moment and the course was remote, which has made it easy for me to fit in an hour in the morning before I start work or in the evenings after I finish. I even have an app on my phone so I can access resources on the go.
“The professional qualifications I’ve gained in project management have been more important to my progression than my university degree, but the courses can be expensive so without a Personal Learning Account I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. It’s definitely accelerated my career, I would recommend that anyone who’s eligible goes for it – it’s a real game changer.”
All you need to know about Personal Learning Accounts
What is it?
Setting up a Personal Learning Account gives you access to free training that will help improve your job prospects and overall career. Choose from over 1,000 courses across 10 sectors such as construction, finance, digital, health and social care and engineering, and study from home online around your other commitments.
Who is eligible?
Anyone over the age of 19 earning under £26,000 or anyone who is currently on furlough, on a zero hours contract, or has been told their job is at risk.
How do I apply?
Apply for a Personal Learning Account through Working Wales and speak to a local advisor. Call 0800 028 4844 or visit www.workingwales.gov.wales/contact-us for more information.
How much does it cost?
It’s free! All college courses under the Personal Learning Accounts programme are funded by Welsh Government. The only costs you will need to cover are your own expenses if you need to travel.
What courses can I do?
There are hundreds of courses on offer with all colleges in Wales. Visit the colleges’ own websites for more information.
Choose from qualifications in:
- Business and management
- IT and digital
- Customer service
- Advanced materials and manufacturing
- Retail, tourism and leisure
- Hospitality and catering
- Health and social care
- Food and land based
- Energy and environment
Do I have to go to my local college or can I study anywhere in Wales?
Many colleges are delivering teaching online only which may mean you can explore beyond your local college. However, be aware that face-to-face learning may be required during the duration of your course so you will need to consider travel times and costs.