They say every cloud has a silver lining and, whilst few people enjoy having to live with outside help (i.e. getting Housing and Council Tax Benefits), although I know some don't mind and don't want to work, there are some perks in that you can get stuff free.
I recently signed up for and started work on the ITQ2/ECDL Extra course, something which is increasingly being demanded in the admin and secretarial world. I paid £35 for the British Computer Society registration, but I'll get that back when I complete the course. The course itself and the tests have all been free for me - a saving of hundreds!
On Friday I went to another local low-cost training organisation to sign up for the OCR Level 3 Text Processing (Business Professional) suite. I already have the old Text Processing and Word Processing certificates from back in 2001, but I thought that updating and extending the qualification wouldn't hurt. I expected to be able to sign up for the Level 3 Certificate (=4/5 individual certs), but wondered about the Diploma (=7 or more certs). The lady there told me that, if I'm to be funded (i.e. to get it almost free, just £5 admin fee and 50% of exam fees), I have to do the full diploma! Challenge, yay! Actually, it's not that hard as I'd already looked at the programme in detail and seen that I can transfer in the Word Processing Software and Presentation Software from my ITQ2 and get those to count. Anyway, thanks to the benefits, I got all that lot for £48.69 - including a 10% discount for paying all in one go!
I just looked on the local college site to see that it would have actually cost me several hundred pounds to take the 5 exams I'd need to complete the Diploma with them (£150 each for 3 modules, plus £200+ for the final 2) and it would have been over £400 for the ITQ2. So, I've managed to get myself more than £1200 worth of training and certification for less than £50!
I don't have much time to complete the training, but that's OK as I know a lot of the material already and, esp. with the Text Processing Dip, I need the exam prep more than anything. By exam prep I only mean that I know OCR require things to be 100% their style or you begin to amass 'faults', so I just want to get my exam technique in line with their expectations. Both programmes are to be completed by late July, but then I will have 7 new certificates for my glory folder and, hopefully, a heavily subsidised leg up to the sort of job I want to get once I finally manage to strengthen up enough to lead a normal life again.=) Things are better, but it takes a while.
I've also been sussing out the best value NVQ programmes in the area and also just discovered that Chesterfield College, (which I can get to on the bus from v near home) offers the ITQ3 programme, which I'm coveting for later. Also have my eyes on the OU's Certificate in Business Studies.
Next fortnight we'll be up in Leeds helping out with exam invigilation, so we should be able to restock the bank balance a bit. Whew!=)
Finishing up some older projects
5 weeks ago