I must apologise for having been away from the blog for a short while. My husband has just deployed for 6 months to the Middle East and I’ve been getting to grips with my latest (and last RAF) new job whilst also trying to be a model solo parent. Or at least a functional one.
My new job entails delivering further professional development to Junior RAF Officers. I have to say that many RAF personnel completely underestimate the value of the additional training that we are offered (mandated, in some cases) for free. Someone (no names, no pack drill) turned up this week and may as well have said ‘I have absolutely no interest in being here’. Seriously, I don’t understand that. Free training, in work time where you still get paid. Not many places in civvy street offer the same sorts of opportunities. However, there are opportunities out there for everyone that could be capitalised on and I thought I would summarise some of them here. Whilst some of these are just available for military or RAF personnel, some are also available to all so please read on. I promise there is something here for everyone!
The military run a University Short Courses program where personnel can apply for courses that generally run for around 3 days in a wide variety of subjects, with accommodation included.
Standard Learning Credits (SLC). The SLC Scheme allows personnel to obtain financial assistance for learning costs. You are able to claim 80% of your course fees up to a maximum of £175 per Financial Year. Whilst there are some restrictions about how this can be spent (up until you start resettlement), it can be a useful way of subsidising further education and development.
Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC). The ELC Scheme gives you 3 hits of a pot of either £1000 or £2000, depending on your length of service. Whilst many people choose to not use these before their resettlement (and you can use these up to 10 years after leaving the Service), they can be used whenever you like. I used some of mine to pay for my second Bachelor’s degree with the Open University.
Future Learn. A great free resource of University level courses that typically last between 6-8 weeks and require about 3-5 hours work each week. Topics are diverse as Agincourt, Forensic Psychology and Introduction to Journalism (which I’ve just started). You can get certificates of participation and the opportunity to work with some very good Universities. All for free!
Ted Talks. If you’ve not been on Ted Talks, I thoroughly commend them. You don’t get asked to do a Ted Talk unless you are at the top of your field and have something fascinating to say. The talks are free, last from about 15-30 minutes and again cover a very diverse range of topics.
Smart Women Week. Red magazine are running a Smart Women Week 21 – 25 September in London, which features mentoring sessions, writing workshops, exclusive broadcasts, cooking demonstrations, yoga, meditation and much nore. I wish I could be there, but I can’t be released from work, although I will be checking in for the online wake-up yoga class daily! This one isn’t free, but a proportion of ticket sales will be donated to Women for Women International which supports women in countries affected by conflict and war.
Career Girl Daily. This one is aimed at women in their 20s but will deliver a great range of advice, hints and tips on career life, all delivered in bite sized chunks. You can also follow via Facebook if that’s easier for you.
So there you have it, a range of free or low cost options to enhance your professional development. My final (and best) tip is to Take Advantage of everything on offer to you, be that from resources mentioned above, your friends, your family or your work colleagues. It’s out there for the taking, fellow Venturers, so go for it. No-one will do that for you 😉 Happy Venturing x