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Welsh Government

Helen's story


Helen kickstarted her new career after spending two years caring full-time for her grandmother.

Returning to employment

44-year-old Helen from Cwmbran 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 and exciting role.

Helen had been caring for her grandmother full-time and went through a divorce which prompted her return to employment.

Helen said: “During my marriage, I was fortunate enough to be able to care for my grandmother at a time when she was diagnosed with Dementia. 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.”

An unexpected opportunity

Helen secured a role in a sector she had never worked in before or had planned to get into.

She said: “When I interviewed at Melin Homes, they thought I would be ideal for a different role in the health and safety team to cover some maternity leave. I was permanently hired by the company once the contract expired, however in a different department."

Finding a way back

After some time, Helen decided she would like to return to work in health and safety.

She said: “A lot of jobs advertised in the sector 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.

“I contacted Coleg Gwent to enquire about the NEBOSH course there, and they told me I would qualify for a Welsh Government-funded Personal Learning Accounts programme."

Benefits of a Personal Learning Account (PLA)

Helen has gained a lot from using a Personal Learning Account. For her, it has led her to a new career. It has also fitted into her lifestyle as a mother and full-time employee.

She continued: “Accessing the Personal Learning Account was incredibly easy for me. All I had to do was fill out a form online, and within a couple of phone calls, everything was set up and ready to go.

“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, and my classes are all online, so I can pick it up and restart it whenever I have a spare 30 mins, which fits around my life.

“It’s also 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.”

What’s next

She said: “I’ve just secured a role in the past few weeks after proving my interest in the subject with my ongoing Personal Learning Account, so I will be returning to health and safety sooner than I’d anticipated!”

Helen intends to complete her qualifications and continue to upskill.

Explore Personal Learning Accounts to find out more, or get in touch with Working Wales.