A student who was forced to close her hospitality business during the pandemic is on track to pursue a new career in accountancy thanks to free online learning delivered by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC).
Evelyn Armstrong from Birmingham, who came to the UK from South Africa 20 years ago, had always enjoyed accounting since her school days but found the cost of studying prohibitive. Having worked in customer service, sales, and marketing, and run her own successful magazine for over a decade, Evelyn turned her focus to hospitality two years ago and launched Bottega Birmingham at the National Indoor Arena. When the effects of the pandemic on the hospitality sector led Evelyn to another change of direction, she was delighted to be able to pick up her accountancy studies again.
Successfully juggling family life as a mother of two children with special educational needs and disabilities, Evelyn completed a Level 2 AAT accountancy qualification online with NWSLC.
Her achievement has enabled Evelyn to progress on to the Level 3 course thanks to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee which provides funding for adults aged 24 to gain their first Level 3 qualification (equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or two A Levels).
The Lifetime Skills Guarantee has been backed by £95 million in government funding for the current academic year providing adults with the opportunity to gain a new qualification for free and helping them to gain in-demand skills and secure great jobs.
Evelyn said, “Having to close down my restaurant really impacted my self-esteem and self-confidence as I had invested time and money in the business. I already had some basic knowledge of accounting, bookkeeping and payroll, but I needed more experience and formal qualifications. As a mature student, I was much more focused on what I wanted to achieve.
“Balancing home life and study was a real challenge, but online learning provided me with the flexibility to study at times to suit me. I was also very grateful for the enthusiasm and support of my tutors. I am passionate about my studies and plan to work towards becoming a qualified accountant. Nothing can stop me now; thanks to this opportunity, there’s a brighter and better future ahead of me.”
Accountancy tutor Delia Cross said, “Evelyn is an amazing student, and I am incredibly proud of her achievements to date. She completed her AAT Level 2 within a few months, with high marks, and progressed on to the Level 3. She has a professional attitude, is organised, disciplined, and very hard working. She has particularly impressed me with her determination to achieve high marks and her dedication to fulfil her true potential.
“Evelyn also cares about other students’ learning experiences, and her feedback was invaluable in helping to improve our course delivery and assessment. Evelyn is a credit to herself and the college, and I wish her all the best in her studies.”
Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “It is always fantastic to hear the stories of students who have benefited from their studies and who have plans to capitalise on their skills in future careers.
“We were pleased to welcome the extra support available through the Lifetime Skills Guarantee for adults who want to retrain or improve their current skills and are seeing enrolments consistently increasing. We know that many individuals have been facing challenging circumstances including redundancy because of the coronavirus pandemic and hope that we will be able to offer them a lifeline with a route into a new career.
“Colleges are leading the way to help reenergise the UK economy and NWSLC is in a great position to make links between organisations that need skills and individuals looking for work, whether they are starting out for the first time, retraining to follow a new direction, or seeking support following redundancy. It is our mission to introduce skilled and work-ready individuals to employers across the region.”
For more information on courses for adults visit the NWSLC Community Skills Hub online and contact the college.