I've met so many wonderful people who have taught me so much

As part of our European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL) Project, AONTAS organised a professional exchange to Malta in collaboration with the Skills for Work Programme. The delegation included four Skills for Work learners, coming from diverse backgrounds. This trip supported the learners to acquire new work skills, contributing to professional and personal development. It also allowed them to bring back new ideas to their own workplaces and communities. Skills for Work were announced as winner of the ‘Training at Work Award’ as part of EU Vocational Skills Week. In this blog adult learner William shares his experience of the Programme.

William’s experience has allowed him to see more of the world and meet new people

Returning to education for me was quite a big deal. I was educated by the Christian brothers many years ago. Most of our lessons were spent doing music rather that reading writing and arithmetic, never mind history, geography or anything else. I went to secondary school not knowing how to read or write. This meant that I was completely behind my classmates as the school was concentrating on teaching me how to read and write. I failed my Inter Cert because of my lack of knowledge in other subjects and this had an effect on my confidence and self-esteem.

At 16 years of age I arrived in school one morning and the head teacher told me I was wasting my time and should just get a job. I arrived home to my mother that evening, announcing I had a full-time job. I can’t say my mother was too pleased that I had left school!

There was always lots of support and encouragement

I had no aspirations to ever return to education until one day in my current job the Skills for Work Coordinator came in to my workplace and told us about the opportunities for workers to do basic courses. I had no computer skills and thought I would like to try and learn. My employer was very supportive and gave us the time to participate in the course. The tutor was extremely patient and helpful and throughout the course we were always treated as equals. Our lack of knowledge was never a problem. There was always lots of support and encouragement. The coordinator called to the class quite often and at one stage spoke to us individually about progression. I mentioned I would love to do Maths as I had never had the opportunity to do Maths.  She referred me to the local Adult Education Centre where I was placed in a small class and I am now excelling in this area.

I plan to take up another Skills for Work course where I will learn basic spreadsheets. This will be great for my job as I work in a warehouse and use spreadsheets a lot.

Do not think twice about returning to education

The advice I would give to anyone who finds themselves in the same situation as my self would be, do not think twice about returning to education. The benefits are huge. I am not afraid to use a computer and sending emails is a common occurrence for me now.

I met so many wonderful new people who have taught me so much

My increased self-esteem and confidence alone have enabled me to participate in a study trip to Malta with AONTAS, where I met so many fantastic people. The outcome of this trip is that I have learned to do things I would never have dreamed of. I can now use Twitter, WhatsApp, and other apps on my phone, I wouldn’t have tried. I met so many wonderful people who have taught me so much. I have volunteered to speak at various events, something which would never be in my wildest dreams.

I am so looking forward to progressing and developing myself professionally.

All thanks to Skills for work!!

If you have an inspiring learner story that you would like to share you can contact Leah Dowdall, Learner Advocacy Officer by email:, call 01 406 8220 or you can fill out our short learner story survey here: