Unique course offers opportunity for communities to develop skills for the workplace


A unique course offered by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is reaching into communities across South Wales to help people gain the skills needed by employers.


Gareth Williams, YMCA, Dr Maggie Inman, UWTSD, Andrew Templeton, YMCA, Roger Maidment, UWTSD and Glenn Behena, UWTSD.

The University’s Certificate in Higher Education: Skills for the Workplace was launched at the University in 2012 as a flexible programme offered during the evenings and weekends to enable students to balance their work and family commitments, while also being able to study for a university qualification.  

It was developed to provide students with the tools to apply their personal transferable skills to improve their workplace performance and employment prospects whilst also developing their confidence to anticipate problems and find solutions, to work independently and with other people at all levels within the workplace.  Successful completion of the certificate programme can lead onto the degree programme: ‘Leadership and Management Skills for the Workplace’.

The demand for the programme has grown considerably since then and its popularity has led the University to extend its outreach provision in partnership with such community organisations as the YMCA.

The programme, which commenced at the YMCA Plas on City Road in Cardiff, has now also been extended to the YMCA’s centre in Newport with the first cohort enrolling on the 9th October.

Roger Maidment, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management said:  “This programme supports the mission of the University because it’s to do with working in collaboration with partners to enable students from all backgrounds to reach their potential.  Studying at traditional university campuses does not suit everybody, particularly adult learners coming back into education or people who prefer to study in their local community where they feel more comfortable.

The University is committed to finding as many opportunities for students to study, in as many ways as possible.  From traditional campus-based provision to online and blended learning but also via community-based outreach provision.  The Skills for the Workplace programme offers an opportunity for generally mature students who don’t necessarily have traditional qualifications from their time at school, to study a university course. They may be very successful in life but it’s a matter of tapping that potential and enabling them to demonstrate those skills in an academic context”.

Kirsty Mitchell

Kirsty Mitchell, a student who commenced her studies at the YMCA Plas last January said: “I’ve always wanted to go into Higher Education but because of my health issues I missed a lot of college when I was younger.  But when my friend mentioned that she was doing this course, I thought I might look into it and when I found out about the finance and all the support I’d get because of my health and that it was held near where I was, I thought, yes let’s go for it!.

“My confidence has come on so much. It’s nice now I can compete with my son when it comes to doing stuff on the computer as usually he’s a whizz but I can say I learnt that this week!  I wanted to be able to show that even though you’ve got a disability it doesn’t have to stop you.  I never thought I’d be able to do it but I’m doing really well and I’m really enjoying it.  For me, because of my health issues, it’s got to be accessible.  It’s easy for me to get to; I’m not on a big campus where I’d have to walk from this lecture to another lecture, it’s all in one small building so it’s made my life so much easier; it’s made it achievable.  Rather than going to a big campus that I won’t be able to because I’d be exhausted by the time I got to my lecture so being in this setting has been amazing.

Gareth Williams, YMCA Plas Manager “We are more than happy to have UWTSD working with us to provide learning in the community through our new centre in Cardiff.  Our partnership is very positive in the sense that it’s a part of a wider range of partnerships with learning providers that serve the community and provides opportunities for people from the locality to study and work within the community.”

Mohammad Sahed

Mohammad Sahed who also started the course in January said: “It all started when I left school. I had the opportunity to go to University but I didn’t because I went into the family business, which I’ve run for a number of years.  Recently I sold the family business and so I thought what to do next and that going back into uni would be the logical next step to take. But after looking around I found this course and I thought it’s perfect.  It fits around my family time, my personal life and the course could be a springboard to go to a further level in education.

The skills I’ve developed include presentation skills.  I get nervous in front of people but we’ve done a few presentations now and each time I’m getting a bit more confident and apparently the last time I did really well, smashed it!  You’re learning about theories of learning and when you’re learning about these theories it does help you to understand a bit more and it does help you in your education.

I find it very friendly.  When I heard about the course, I thought it would be in a big university and it might be a bit intimidating; but the locality is great, it’s just around the corner from my house, I can walk here and I’m with one or two people that I already knew. The teachers are great and there’s a nice friendly atmosphere in the classroom”.

Rezaul Choudhury

Rezaul Choudhury said: “When I finished school I started a course a BTEC National Diploma in Business and Finance in college.  I did the first year but due to problems within my family I had to leave the college, so I started getting involved in different businesses.  Recently, I’ve become a lone parent and at the same time I was thinking there was something always missing within me and I have also felt that I can do more in life.  It was always in mind to study further. A friend mentioned about UWTSD offering this course and I looked into it and the finance available and, the most important thing for me, is that I can manage it around my lifestyle. 

The course offers skills for the workplace which are very important and I can go into any field and apply them – communication, management, essay-writing, bibliography, using software, and digital skills - and I thought if I can develop all that I can progress even further in my life and go onto the next stage.  I’m planning to do the degree course if things go well”.

Andrew Templeton, Chief Executive of YMCA Cardiff and Newport Group said: “We’ve been working with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for a number of years and I’m really pleased that our collaboration has grown over that period and that we are now delivering regionally in both Cardiff and Newport. These collaborations are great as they are bringing new students into our centres and we are engaging new learners in a community setting which is marvellous for the University and the YMCA because from there we get users coming into our centre and being able to see the wider variety of activities that we have not only for young people but for the community in general.  I hope our collaboration will continue to grow from strength to strength”.

Dr Maggie Inman, Head of the Business School confirms this: “The programme is taught by lecturers who all have industry experience and many of whom, gained their higher education qualifications as mature learners. This means they understand the challenges that their students face and consequently are very supportive of their students. The Business School is very proud that the Skills in the Workplace programme, is an excellent example of how UWTSD continues to fulfil its mission of transforming education, transforming lives.

Glenn Behenna, Programme Director of the Skills for the Workplace programmes, which includes the BA Leadership and Management Skills for the Workplace said “This programme is changing the lives of successful participants.  Many of our students and graduates have achieved significant career progression during their studies with us and following their graduation.  Our students and graduates tell us that the increased confidence they develop through the programme, along with the workplace focused skills, have provided them with means to go for career opportunities which they would not have considered without the skills and confidence acquired through the programme.  The opportunity to study at a convenient venue is a huge attraction to our students, many of whom balance work, with family and study with us.  It’s great to see people positively changing during this programme and it means so much to them in all areas of their life.”