Mum kickstarts career after years caring full-time for her grandmother – South Wales Argus

HELEN Minns, from Cwmbran, made the difficult decision to return to work during a family illness.
The 44-year-old mother to two teenagers changed her career after caring for her grandmother full time.
Having only recently started working again, Ms Minns decided to study a health and safety course on the Welsh Government’s Personal Learning Account programme to help support her family in a new role.
She has since gone on to gain a full-time position as a health and safety assistant and is enjoying rebuilding her career around her new family dynamic.
Ms Minns said: “During my marriage, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to care for my grandmother at a time when she was diagnosed with dementia. It was and still is a difficult time, but I’m so glad I was able to be there for her.”
She went through a divorce three years ago, which prompted her return to employment.
She said: “Thankfully, another family member was able to take on the caring role when my own family circumstances changed, which meant I could begin looking for a job.”
After a while, she secured a health and safety role, which was not something she had ever worked in before or had planned to get into.
She said: “It wasn’t the job I had initially applied for. But when I interviewed at Melin Homes, they thought I would be ideal for a role in the health and safety team to cover some maternity leave. When the contract ended, I was hired in the company permanently, but in a different team.
“When I worked in health and safety, I found my work interesting and engaging, so decided that I wanted to return to and pursue a career in it. It’s also an area of work that will always be in demand, which appealed to me too.
“A lot of jobs advertised in the industry often ask for a NEBOSH (National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety) qualification as a standard, so I began looking for places where I could complete the course to improve my skillset.”
The NEBOSH course is a globally recognised qualification that gives you knowledge of key concepts relating to health and safety, including the laws and legislations surrounding it.
“Initially, I was looking to pay for a course and was saving up to fund this qualification for myself. But when I contacted Coleg Gwent to enquire about the NEBOSH course there, they told me I would be eligible for a Personal Learning Accounts programme funded by the Welsh Government.”
The accounts help adults in Wales study part-time around their existing work and family commitments.
Fully funded by the Welsh Government, the programme provides free and flexible courses to help learners gain the skills and qualifications they need to progress in their current or new career.
An account is available to adults in Wales who are aged 19 and above, in employment and earning under £29,534, or are at risk of being made redundant.
There is no earning cap of £29,534 on approved courses or qualifications in digital or green skills
More than 30,000 people have signed up for a Personal Learning Account course since its launch in 2019, and the programme’s most popular courses include health and safety, health and social care, project management, accounting, IT, digital marketing, vehicle repair and maintenance.
Ms Minns said: “I like that there isn’t a time limit set on it. As long as you finish the course content and pass the exam at the end of the year, that’s all you need to do. There is no pressure on you to complete certain parts of it at a specific time. I think it’s great that I can do it as and when I want to.
“My course is being delivered online, so I don’t have to turn up to a classroom each week. My classes are all online so I can pick it up and drop it whenever I have a spare 30 mins, which fits around my life.
“It’s been a huge benefit to me that I haven’t needed to pay for it, as I could access the course immediately rather than waiting until I’d put aside some money for it.”
She began her course in May 2022 and will continue it into next year alongside her new permanent role.
“The original position in health and safety at Melin Homes became available again. I’ve just secured this role in the past few weeks after proving my interest in the subject with my ongoing Personal Learning Accounts, so will be returning to health and safety sooner than I’d anticipated!”
She aims to complete subsequent qualifications and continue upskilling herself throughout her career.
For more information, advice and guidance, search Working Wales Personal Learning Account, visit your nearest Careers Wales Centre or call the team via 0800 028 4844.
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