Long distance learners stayed on course to success

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Distance was no barrier to success for three Stornoway women who became each other’s study buddies to success.

They recently completed a Certificate of Higher Education in Business Management through their unions.

The HNC-level qualification was sponsored by Scottish Union Learning, supported by the European Social Fund, and was aimed at helping workers gain qualifications to improve their job prospects.

Sisters Dolanna Macleod and Mary Ann Campbell both work for Caledonian MacBrayne and are members of the TSSA union.

Along with UNISON member Eilidh Smith, who works for Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, they joined 12 other union learners from across the Highlands and Islands who embarked on the two-year distance learning course with the Open University in Scotland in 2012.

Dolanna said: “It has been really helpful having Mary Ann on the course as we regularly meet up with classmate Eilidh Smith and the three of us help each other stay motivated.

“I hope my qualification will help me to be professional and confident and possibly gain promotion in the future. Finding time to study can be difficult but it’s been a really good experience and gives you a great sense of achievement.”

Sylvia O’Grady, Lifelong Learning Manager for Scottish Union Learning, said: “This pilot course highlights how unions are actively helping their members to access skills and qualifications throughout their working lives, wherever they may be located and particularly in more remote locations of Scotland, thus sustaining and enhancing their employability.

“It also demonstrates how union-led learning has a vital role in developing the workforce and working with employers to build capacity in organisations.”

Khadija Patel, Project Officer for The Open University, said: “We were delighted to work with Scottish Union Learning to deliver this landmark course.

“The Open University has more than 40 years’ experience of providing learning tailored to individual aspirations and to meet the needs of employers in today’s society.

“Over 70% of OU students are working full or part-time during their studies.”

Pictured are Dolanna Macleod, Mary Ann Campbell and Eilidh Smith.