Welcome to the first of a new series of “A Day in the life…” articles, in which we interview colleagues from across the CEIS Group to reflect on their career and experiences in the group. In this instalment, we sit down with Joan Gibson, Skills and Training Team Leader based in the Irvine office at CEIS Ayrshire to get an insight into what the life of a trainer is like.
Joan has been with CEIS Ayrshire for 5 years now and transitioned into her current position as Skills and Training Team Leader in 2018. For Joan, variety is key when it comes to work and that’s something she certainly sees a lot of in her role.
What do you enjoy most about working at CEIS Ayrshire?
The thing I enjoy most is being able to support all the different clients that come through our doors and offer bespoke training that is catered to that person’s needs. Not every training workshop that we have fits every individual we work with, and that can be for a variety of reasons – maybe they have a different learning style from most people, or maybe they don’t flourish in groups, or maybe they have additional support needs – so we’re quite happy to adapt workshops and courses to suit the individual. I like that variety in my job because my role isn’t straightforward. I work across three different areas, and I find that if my day has variety, that’s when I’m in my flow.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As the Skills & Training Team Leader, the first thing I do is check in on the training team and make sure that they’re OK. If they have any issues with any groups that they are working with, I’ll help out and generally offer support and advice when needed in order to help them deliver the best training they can. I also check in with the Skills & Training Manager, Bryan Hamilton just to keep him updated on the team’s progress.
Alongside that, I do a lot of work with our Business Services Manager, Keith Mason. We work together on business development, so if there are any new opportunities that arise or any new projects that come up, we’ll meet to discuss them and our approach to them. I also co-ordinate with our Pipeline Manager, Joyce Houston to make sure we have enough training running to cover all the contracts we are working on.
We have a number of different training contracts with North Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council, but over the years we’ve worked with councils and businesses in South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Dumfries & Galloway.
For example, today I was meeting with Skills Development Scotland in Dumfries & Galloway, followed by a meeting with North Ayrshire Council to discuss study groups for their school leavers and arranging a careers job fare for them next month. Then later today, I’ll be heading out to Largs to speak to an employer about signing up to the Modern Apprenticeship scheme.
So, there’s a lot of variety in my days. I also makeup the monthly training calendar for all the workshops we run, and I co-ordinate between my team to ensure that we have people to run the courses we want to run.
How has the role changed since the pandemic?
Before the pandemic all our employability workshops were face to face, so my role and the way we deliver training has changed hugely as a result of the pandemic. We would deliver these workshops over a half day, but when we moved to remote working, we had to condense that down into a one hour Zoom call. You want to keep your audience alert in these workshops, and we felt that shrinking it down to an hour when they’re delivered remotely was the right thing to do.
Doing that was a big pro, in many respects. We no longer had the overheads, so we didn’t have to worry about bums on seats, or the capacity of the room because now we can have as many people as we like attending each workshop. So that’s been a positive.
We deliver SQA qualifications too, the move online was very difficult in the beginning, and is still proving difficult to this day because we don’t physically have the people in the room with us to make sure that they’re getting the best support. That also includes not being able to engage body language properly and read the room. If you see someone struggling in the room you can take them away and have a chat with them, which you can’t do online. So that’s another thing we had to adapt to.
So for us, it’s a no brainer to continue the employability workshops online. We deliver two contracts for this now, one in East Ayrshire and one in North Ayrshire. Because everyone is so far part, it makes sense to keep doing these online.
What excites you the most about work?
I always want to find out what’s coming next and that’s what excites me the most about my role.
I like troubleshooting and I like problem solving. I tend to focus on solutions. I like to be challenged and to try different things. I’m never scared to speak up if I don’t know something because I enjoy learning. I’ve learned a lot as a team leader because I like to make sure everything is running properly and that if something isn’t working, we work together to fix it.
What advice would you give people looking to pursue a similar career?
To have a can-do attitude and be a team player. I like to involve myself in as many areas of the business as possible because of my can-do attitude. That’s helped when I’ve been questioned by clients or other agency – because I’ve been involved in other areas of the business, I can answer questions about the business easily.
I’d also say apply yourself. Think about how you like to learn and how you’d like to be treated in a training environment and then apply yourself to delivering that for others.
Thanks to Joan for freeing up some time in her business schedule to chat with us. Skills and training are a key service for CEIS Ayrshire, and it was wonderful to get an insight into how it operates.
If you’d like to learn more about CEIS Ayrshire, or are interested in improving your own, or your employees’ skills through one-to-one or online training, then get in touch with them now to discuss your requirements.