Annually MCX Training & Development provide a bursary to a learner or learners who have participated on a MCX Training & Development programme and wish to pursue further learning elsewhere but are restricted by financial limitations. CV application with cover letter detailing ‘why I should receive the MCX Training & Development bursary’ to Joanne@mcx.ie
Isobel Kennedy was born into a traditional Waterford City family. She is the youngest child – along with her twin brother - in a family of six children, three boys and three girls. The boys were encouraged towards further education and professions. The girls got jobs.
Issy loved school. She attended the Mercy Convent in Waterford City, a well-established school for girls. Early in her school life, Issy realised that ‘you learn better from the teachers you like’ and thrived when that worked well for her. She showed great potential as a teenager, by passing her pre-Leaving Certificate with flying colours, but she then became involved in a difficult relationship, reacted badly to that and while a bright student who always did well at school, failed her Leaving Certificate in 1979.
She moved on to do a course in AnCo in ‘Industrial Techniques’, got an internship in a music shop, and with encouragement from a tutor, moved into the travel agency industry. This was a glamorous industry, where Issy would get to travel extensively and where she stayed for 18 years. She always had itchy feet nonetheless, and moved from travel agency to travel agency. Nearing the end of these 18 years, Issy spent time in a psychiatric hospital, being treated for depression and suicidal tendencies. She was discharged but re-admitted six months later, during 1998, when a diagnosis of bipolar disorder was made. This brought great relief to Issy, as it explained her constant need to move job and home, as well as helping her to understand her mood, energy and activity levels.
With good treatment, medication and counselling happier times ensued. She got married, had her daughter Tara, got jobs easily, moved on and then secured herself a job at AOL (later to become Talk/Talk). There she stayed for 10 years and ‘loved, loved, loved’ it. In 2011, however, Issy’s job became redundant and Issy found herself job seeking. This hit her like a bereavement. She felt the loss hugely. With no academic qualification or Leaving Certificate, Issy became hugely disadvantaged in the labour market.
Waterford Chamber Skillnet was proactive in supporting the employees at Talk/Talk. They made visits to the company and circulated emails for courses and training support programmes. Issy had always loved learning and all her life has done one course or another, none of them accredited. This was the first opportunity to do a training programme that would lead to accreditation at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Despite her feelings of lack of belief in her ability, sadness at the closure of Talk/Talk, loss of friendships and very low self-esteem, she was excited at the opportunity to avail of the Job Seekers Support Programme (JSSP). It stirred in Issy a desire to be educated.
Her first accredited course was a FETAC (now QQI) Level 6 Life Coaching Programme. This was her first ever assignment, she did not understand what was expected of her and what she needed to do to successfully complete this programme. She was therefore initially unsuccessful. It did not deter her however and on 31 March 2012, Issy believes that her life was changed forever and for the better. With continuing support from JSSP and Waterford Chamber Skillnet staff, Issy enrolled on a FETAC Level 6 Train the Trainer Programme. She met the trainer Michael Cox of MCX Training & Development. Issy loved Michael’s energy, his sense of humour and fun, as well as his belief in her ability. Issy got a Distinction in this programme. She couldn’t believe it. For the first time in her life she says she ‘felt intelligent’. This success prompted Issy to re-submit her first ever assignment and subsequently successfully complete her Level 6 Life Coaching Programme.
From that day on, Issy has excelled on her educational path. The redundancy package from Talk/Talk included funding from the European Global Fund (EGF) which Issy utilised fully and strategically. It provided her with a laptop and funding to complete a) a Diploma in Life Coaching, b) a Level 8 Certificate in Psychotherapy, c) a Level 8 Higher Certificate in Human Resource Management and Oral Communications – when she proved herself to be a first class honours student - and d) a Degree in Adult Education, her ultimate dream. Also, during this time, Issy worked with Connect, a Local Training Initiative, where she put her call centre background to good use, but also took the opportunity to secure FETAC Level 5 programmes in computer skills.
Her pursuit of her BA in Adult Education is worth noting. Equipped with her distinction in Train the Trainer, a first class honours higher certificate and her use of EGF, Issy went to an Open Day in WIT in 2013. ‘I wanted a degree’ she says. She spoke with Helen Murphy, Co-ordinator Adult Education and Dr. Maeve O’Grady, RPL Group Mentor and later that day got a phone call to ask her to ‘start tomorrow’. With much trepidation and little confidence, Issy, apprehensively, stepped into a room of 25 learners. These were not ordinary learners. These were people who were teaching practitioners. Issy was the only one who was not. She was terrified. She felt she didn’t belong. However, with a couple of deep breaths and the knowledge that she can talk and ask questions, she slowly felt her way.
Once Issy began to talk about her educational achievements in this setting, she gained confidence and excelled. Waterford Institute of Technology recognise prior learning (RPL) and therefore, Issy, with RPL and a gusto for life, undertook a BA in Adult Education in less than a year, graduating in 2014 with First Class Honours. Whenever during this time, that she felt she could no longer continue, she would ring her brother and mentor, Ray and he would remind her of the cap and gown she so longed to wear. It worked!
She is now undertaking a second degree - BA (hons) Teaching in Adult and Further Education and will begin her third semester in September 2016, having gained first class honours in her first two semesters. She is currently seeking work placement for her third semester in the pride and knowledge that she is considered exceptional.
When asked about the critical factors to her success, Issy sat back and thought about it.
She believes that they are:
Waterford Chamber Skillnet were trusted with EGF funding during the job losses at Talk Talk Waterford which is how we met Issy. We are proud to have been a small part in Issy’s further education journey, and can testify to the tremendous confidence Issy gained from signing up for the Train the Trainer (FETAC Level 6) programme which was delivered by Michael Cox. Michael has an extraordinary talent when it comes to building a learner’s confidence enabling the learner to believe in themselves. To hear that Issy progressed on to third level education on the back of that one course was tremendous, and a testament to the work Issy put in and the confidence Michael instilled in her.
With any delivery of adult education, it is a very daunting time for everyone. As is often the case with learners that make to decision to embark on further training, or return to education after years of employment, even the thought of sitting an exam or being in a classroom setting is petrifying. Waterford Chamber Skillnet and our carefully selected trainers strive to make that return to adult education as comfortable as possible for all learners, and like Issy, try to nurture learners to continue with education, employment or self-employment.Kelly Cummins – Waterford Chamber Skillnet
We never underestimate the courage it can take for any jobseeker to walk through the door...it is tremendous and it’s a daunting thing for those that want to upskill themselves after years of routine within a workplace. Each person’s journey back to education and training is different and it is the greatest for those who have faced prior challenges in the education system. We know that Waterford Chamber Skillnet has one shot of making that person’s decision into a right one or a wrong one.
I have seen people come through our door that are quiet and shy and who realise they have stepped completely out of their comfort zone. In a few short weeks those same individuals have attained, in some cases, a staggering amount of confidence and self-assurance. It is heartening to know that we have lent to that person’s journey in some way, through our support and the quality of our providers and their programmes.Sara Mullally - Waterford Chamber Skillnet
Issy is a learner who was always an absolute pleasure to work with. Not unlike many job seekers on the JSSP programme Issy carried the tremendous burden of self-doubt with her on day one of the programme. She walked tall with a well-earned distinction on day 10. She had conquered demons to achieve this and more importantly she enjoyed it. It was clear that JSSP programme had created a monster with a keen appetite for more learning. If she could do this what else could she do? She was willing to test her limits and she has not stopped yet nor do I ever expect her to stop.
The JSSP programme provides for many ‘Issy’s. The stories are numerous from Thomas to Bernie, from Billy to Bobby to Damien. Thomas who couldn’t sleep a wink the night before day one and promised himself that if he attended day one he would allow himself leave at the first break. He told this story on day two after he had facilitated his first ever group session. Bernie who kept saying how ‘she can’t’ for the first few days of the programme until she suddenly realised on day 4 that ‘she can’. Billy with a severe stammer, Bobby who could neither talk or hear and Damien who was visually impaired. They all realised strengths and abilities that otherwise would have gone unnoticed were it not for the JSSP programme.
All of these learners any many more besides succeeded in achieving level 6 qualifications only because the JSSP programme provided them with the opportunity. They say this themselves.
Like Issy they all shared one realisation from attending JSSP programmes. They have all validated Henry Ford’s famous quote – ‘If you think you can you can and if you think you can’t you can’t – either way you are right’. The JSSP programme helps learners believe ‘they can’
I share their appreciation of Waterford Chamber Skillnet and the JSSP programme for making this possible. The JSSP programme has facilitated learners to realise their hidden talents and intelligences; dramatically improved confidences and significantly enhanced their employment prospects. For me I thank all the Thomas’s, Billys, Bobby’s and Damiens who attended JSSP programmes over the years - they truly prove that anything is possible through training and education least of all - Issy Kennedy – Go Girl!Michael Cox -MCX Training & Development Ltd