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Maria has come to the UK and is eager to work using her language skills. As well as enrolling on a Functional English course with Community Learning Services to improve her writing skills, she has had a National Careers Service (NCS) appointment and will be starting a new job as a translator soon.

If you would like to speak to a National Careers Service advisor, pop along to The Learning Place in Derby Road during Aspirations Week between 9.30am-3pm on Thursday 23 January or call 023 9262 1860.


Francesca started with us as a learner, brushing up her IT skills and looking for a career change. We are delighted to say she has now joined our Community Learning Services team as an apprentice and can be found on reception in The Learning Place in Derby Road.

Find out which courses might help you at the Community Learning Service website.


Natalja has attended a range of courses with us including Family Learning, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Functional Skills. Having achieved her Level 2 maths qualification, she is currently studying English with Community Learning Services at The Learning Place, as well as volunteering in our maths classes.

Find out which courses might help you at the Community Learning Service website.


Kieran is one of our first Business Administration level 3 standard apprentices to go through the new End Point Assessment process. We are delighted that he has passed both elements with Distinction and wish him well in his continued career with Adult Social Care.

Find out more about Business Administration apprenticeships on the Community Learning Service website.


I am an Assistant Practitioner in a nursing home and wanted to improve my skills and knowledge to support my role. I decided to do an apprenticeship in Adult Social Care. I had completed level 3 previously and have progressed onto level 4. I started my role 10 years ago as a Carer with truly little experience. During this time, I have become a team leader and am now an Assistant Practitioner. I want to progress further to become an Assistant Unit Manager because I want to help people more and support them in different ways.

The apprenticeship experience has been a mixture. I really enjoyed some of the units such as a research project which I based on mental health and COVID. I got a real insight into how COVID affected people. I undertook a survey on how COVID impacted staff themselves and how they felt it had affected residents who have Dementia. I did find some unit’s a little difficult, in particular getting my head around some of the legislation. However, with support from my assessor, I was able to do complete this. Overall, I really have enjoyed my apprenticeship.

I am benefiting in different ways. I have gained more skills and knowledge which I use within my role as an Assistant Practitioner, such as greater knowledge of legislation and what elements need to be part of a care plan to best support residents to highest standards. I also feel that the apprenticeship has helped me personally by developing my confidence.

I want to progress further and go onto my level 5, hopefully next year. My dream role is to become a Counsellor in a nursing home for staff and relatives. By completing my NVQ’s as part of an apprenticeship is a great step towards this.

Photo of Paige Chandler


How volunteering can make a career – Jo’s story

Jo Duckett is the Community Learning Service Manager of The Learning Place in North End. Volunteering unexpectedly changed her whole career path from working in an office job to adult teaching.

After her youngest child had started school and working part-time, Jo found herself with time on her hands. She looked at volunteering because it offered flexibility that is not necessarily available in the workplace. She also became curious and “a little bit nosey” about what was happening in schools, so she began volunteering at the school her children attended.

As a part of this volunteer role, she read one-to-one with children and led reading groups. Jo found that there was a huge difference in ability between the children even though they had all started school at the same time. Jo had her “eyes opened to a whole new world.” This led Jo to understand more about the struggles faced by parents and difficulties some adults face with reading.

Jo’s interest in adult literacy led her to take a course “Understanding Basic Skills” at Highbury College. As part of this course, she volunteered to work in an adult literacy class. Her experience volunteering in the primary school meant that Jo was matched with a family learning tutor for schools. Jo then earned more qualifications and was offered a job as a part time tutor, which eventually led to her current role.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t started off volunteering in schools.”

Volunteering helped her gain experience, knowledge and insight to develop her career. As a volunteer, she found the work rewarding and knew that the teachers really appreciated her help in the classrooms. Though she faced some challenges such as behavioural issues with students, she learned how to be that authoritative figure to help keep the children safe on a class trip. She said, “I felt that I was learning as much from [volunteering] as the children.”

Jo believes that volunteering is an amazing opportunity and that to benefit from the experience a volunteer needs to be reliable and open to different possibilities. She suggests find an area of interest and approach the organisation direct to enquire about volunteering.

Jo said, “If someone had told me that volunteering would open up a whole career in teaching, I would’ve said you’re joking because I was just looking for something to fill a couple of mornings and curious to see what was going on in schools.”

Photograph of Jo Duckett

Portsmouth Aspirations Week

For more information about events and ways to get involved, view our Portsmouth Aspirations Week page.