Adult education has been 100% life changing for Amanda Smith.
Following a seven-year career break, the single mum of six gained further skills and discovered a flair for building maintenance. This resulted in her starting a new role as a carpentry apprentice at leading Midlands’ landlord whg.
The opportunity came about after she completed whg’s UPLIFT women into construction programme, delivered in partnership with Walsall College and the DWP.
The programme aims to give women the skills they need to get into a trade along with a work placement to give them on-site experience. 82% of past participants have secured jobs as a result, with five being offered apprenticeships within whg’s maintenance teams.
“It feels like this is my time,” said Amanda. “Now that my children are all of school age, I want to start doing more for myself and finding out what I can achieve.”
42-year-old Amanda wasn’t always so determined. A period of depression during 2017 left her with a lack of motivation that left her unwilling to leave her home.
This changed when she was referred to The Workplace, whg’s dedicated learning centre for supporting individuals into work, training or volunteering. Amanda slowly recovered her self-esteem through a series of short courses relating to first aid, food safety and catering.
Finding a sense of purpose through these courses, Amanda didn’t hesitate to put herself forward for the DIY course followed by a construction skills diploma course, English and maths qualifications that became crucial to her career kickstart.
“A lack of female construction employees was something whg wanted to address,” explained Amanda. “I was one of 12 people to sign up for UPLIFT which was helping unemployed women train for and find work in building services.
“I absolutely loved the course. We covered guttering, tiling, bricklaying – all the basic principles of construction. I also spent two weeks on placement with CLC. Being offered the apprenticeship at the end of the course was just amazing.”
Going abroad together on holiday for the first time and being able to fix things around the house are just two of the ways that things have improved for Amanda and her family.
She continued: “Things seem to be falling into place for me now. I’m working, expressing myself creatively through my personal DIY projects and I’m still studying.
“It’s all thanks to the support of the people around me, who helped me find the courage to push myself.
“My advice to others is never to say you can’t do something because actually you can. Just go for it and see what happens.”