JOBSEEKERS are being helped to improve their vital literacy and numeracy skills at a new adult learning centre in Exeter.
Elite Training South West has recently opened in Brittany House, New North Road, where tutors are providing free coaching in maths, English and IT.
The courses, leading to nationally recognised qualifications, are fully funded by the Government.
Founder Mike Baker hopes local people currently struggling to find work will follow in his own footsteps by taking advantage of the opportunity to develop the skills sought by most employers.
He said: "After leaving school with no qualifications and spending the first four years of my working life doing a variety of jobs I decided to make a positive change.
"I enrolled onto a basic computer course at my local adult education centre. Watching the tutor of the class support her learners – especially me – and take time and patience with every learner inspired me and I knew that I too wanted to help people.
"I had now really caught the learning bug and I felt extremely motivated to achieving my goal of helping others like me."
After gaining qualifications in numeracy, literacy and computer skills, Mike approached another local training provider to seek advice on becoming an adult teacher.
He started out as a volunteer and after two months was taken on full-time as a support tutor, progressing to become a tutor and then centre manager.
"Learning from the tutors and management was a fantastic experience and I loved learning new skills and facing new challenges," said Mike.
"The pleasure that I gained through teaching and helping people to achieve their goals and aspirations in the same way that I was helped was rewarding."
In 2010 Mike left to set up Elite Training in Exmouth, offering free maths and English tuition. He has now moved the company to new premises in the centre of Exeter, where the additional space and facilities have enabled Elite to branch out into IT training.
Mike said the courses – which are open to people aged 19 and over – had already been well received.
"We have good working relationships with the Jobcentre, Working Links and Careers South West, but people don't need to be referred to us by another organisation," he said.
"The feedback has been great, especially from people who, for childcare or family reasons, appreciate the flexibility of being able to commit to training for anything from three to 30 hours a week."