Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Adult learners' skills enhance local economy

More than 350 adult learners are to be honoured by Queen's University today.

The students include working professionals who returned to study part-time. They are to receive awards at the first ceremony of Queen's winter graduations this evening.

Some are students who have completed a foundation studies programme in further education colleges and will use the qualification as a bridge into the university. Others are professionals in different occupations who have attended the university part-time to update their knowledge and skills.

Ruth Mormecha is one of the learners who will take to the stage at the Whitla Hall to receive a Certificate in the Effective Management of Volunteers.

A family worker with the charity Positive Futures in Lisburn, she has responsibility for 26 volunteers. She said the volunteers were critical in their work with children who have a learning disability.

She said: "I already had five years' practical experience of working with volunteers but, when I saw this course, it offered both a solid foundation in theory with good-practice guidelines and was designed and delivered by professional tutors from the Volunteer Development Agency.

"From the first day of the course, I was able to identify areas in our own practice where we could make improvements to benefit both our volunteers and the young people that we work with.

"As a mother of four children, there was some reorganisation in my own life, aside from becoming a grandmother just one month into the course, but the time was so well managed in the course itself, the assignments and the work-based project just came and went and the important thing for me was that I have been able to put the learning I received into practice in the workplace."

Paul Nolan, of the School of Education at Queen's, said: "The people who receive their certificates, diplomas and degrees today are all people who have achieved a personal success.

"It is when they take the learning back into the workplace that they will be improving the quality of a key resource, the Northern Ireland workforce.

"Our part-time programmes in particular are designed to ensure that we are at the forefront of the lifelong learning revolution, helping both the individual to progress but also meeting the skills needs of the Northern Ireland economy."

Several special prizes and awards are also to be presented today to the top students. The graduations continue tomorrow.

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