This week is Adult Learning Week, so The News reporter Simon Henderson spoke to Alexandra local Malcolm Dillon, who says learning new skills turned his life around.
For 30 years Malcolm Dillon, of Alexandra, worked in physically demanding jobs, but when an accident prevented him from working, he faced the difficult task of retraining.
An adult learning course at the Central Otago Rural Activities Programme (Coreap) made a “big difference” to his confidence, he said.
While working as a wool presser, Mr Dillon suffered a work-related injury to his elbow, ending up on ACC for almost three years.
When his surgeon told him he would need to pursue a different career, Mr Dillon did not know what he would do.
“I thought, ‘well, I’ve got no formal qualifications whatsoever, no NZQA, or credits or anything’ – I dropped out of school when I was 14.”
Against the advice of his surgeon, Mr Dillon went back to wool pressing, but he injured his elbow again.
“So that’s when I realised I really needed to make a career change.”
The Choices adult literacy-based programme run by Coreap was “incredibly helpful”, he said.
“The main thing they have helped with is confidence-building.”
His numeracy, literacy and communication skills had all improved since starting the course.
The course included writing short stories, essays, working with computer software and navigating online.
“Without the Choices course, I don’t think that I would have been able to achieve what I have achieved – it has been incredibly helpful.”
Mr Dillon was now studying for a Certificate in Wool Technology, which opened up new career choices, including being a wool classer.
“It opens up a whole window of things.”
Development and training manager Penny Fitzgerald said the Choices course was available to anyone over the age of 16 who had left the school system.
The course had an open entry policy, so people could join any time during the year, she said.