Brian Whittendale, from Derrylin a dedicated employee for 26 years, found himself facing an uncertain future when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and he was no longer able to work. Determined to get back into employment, Brian made the proactive decision to return to education at the South West College Erne campus studying an NOCN NI Level 1 Award in Employment, Training and Personal Development to upskill and further his computing knowledge.

Despite being out of education since school, Brian, now in his first year of a two-year course, is enjoying his studies at the College. With the support of his tutors, he has enhanced his knowledge and skillset, and has gained a wide range of employability skills. In addition to his academic pursuits, Brian has also had the opportunity to engage in personal and professional growth outside the classroom, which he has found hugely beneficial.

Brian, a holder of an impressive 13 gold Special Olympic medals for wheelchair racing, has enjoyed participating in a number of sporting opportunities and was delighted to participate in a wheelchair race organized by the College, reigniting his passion for the sport and fuelling his ambition to get back into racing.

Brian is also completing a work placement with the marketing team at SWC, showcasing his new skills and building his confidence in the workplace for potential future employment in a similar role.

Brian shared his thoughts on his time at the College, stating: "The support and guidance from the tutors at the College have been outstanding. As a mature student at 50, making my transition back into education seamless. I have already gained so much knowledge from the course and have acquired a wide range of employability skills, propelling me towards my goal of returning to work as a receptionist."

Brian encourages others, regardless of age or circumstances, to explore the educational and personal development offerings at their local college. He believes that it can build confidence, help in returning to work, and steer careers in the right direction. As he continues his studies and pursues his passion for wheelchair racing, Brian is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and is confident he is on the right track to achieving his career ambitions.

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