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Learners' Week proves FE's power to change lives

From finance worker turned vet student to Woolworths manager turned plumber, further education proved its power to transform people's lives during the 19th annual Adult Learners' Week

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From finance worker turned vet student to Woolworths manager turned plumber, further education proved its power to transform people's lives during the 19th annual Adult Learners' Week

The campaign, co-ordinated by adult learning organisation Niace, culminated in today's Adult Learner Awards after thousands of events showcased the learning opportunities available.

Rebecca Fuller, 23, attended college before finding work in investment banking. The trouble was that she really wanted to be a vet but lacked any science background.

"When I originally went to college I did completely different things, and those qualifications wouldn't get me where I want to go," she said.

An Access to Science course at South Essex College of Further and Higher Education proved the solution, and Rebecca now has offers to study veterinary science at Lincoln and Surrey universities.

In January 2009, Debbie Stanley-Jones was made redundant from her management job at Woolworths after 31 years' service. She enrolled on a six-week plumbing taster course at Filton College and a year later set up her own company, Plumbher. Debbie is now studying for a level 2 NVQ in plumbing and her efforts won her a regional individual learning award.

The new skills minister John Hayes was due to speak at Niace's Adult Learners' Week Policy Conference on Wednesday.

Speaking to FE Focus before the conference, Niace director Alan Tuckett said: "The question is, what's the balance between short-term fiscal prudence and the longer-term value to society and the economy of a healthy adult learning sector?"

For a full list of Adult Learners' Award winners, visit the campaign website at www.alw.org.uk.

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