I have lived in New Zealand since 2004 having emigrated with my husband from the United Kingdom. I am Scottish and very proud of my heritage, but I am also extremely blessed to be a New Zealand citizen. I have one daughter who was born in New Zealand.
I’m a very practical person, and therefore have found that my passion in teaching has focused on developing learners transferable skills. What is a transferable skill? Transferable skills are a core set of skills and abilities which can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries, and throughout life.
I spent 5 years of my life in the military serving in the Royal Navy as a Marine Engineering Mechanic. This was my first introduction to teaching as I was required to give short demonstrations on the ships high pressure air systems to trainee mechanics as part of my job. I had no experience with public speaking or effective communication, and I certainly didn’t know how to put together a lesson. I just turned the high pressure air compressor on and off while giving a running commentary on what I was doing and how it worked, shouting at them in a very noisy environment. I doubt I even gave any Q&A time at the end and I had no appreciation for the learner or their experience.
I did eventually put my hand up for leadership training while in the Navy and that was where I began to learn some valuable new transferable skills including public speaking, verbal and written communication, planning, organisation, conflict management, event management and team building. Learning these skills changed my life by giving me confidence and improving my employment opportunities after leaving the Navy.
Following on from the military and after some re-training, I spent many years working in computer and technology retail business management. Something that became very clear to me was the level of technical knowledge of my staff in my retail business was incredible, and often surpassed my own knowledge. Technology was moving at lightning speed and I often relied on my staff who were passionate about the latest technology, keeping me up to date with the stock coming into my business. However, something I became aware of was the lack of basic communication skills, teamwork skills, self-management and time-management skills, organisational and planning skills amongst the majority of my employees. This had a big impact on my business in many ways, including poor customer retention and feedback (especially mystery shopping results), low profit margins on sales, low sales conversion rates and a high turnover of staff. Investing time and effort into our people and helping them to improve existing skills and learn new transferable skills not only benefited our own bottom line, but it improved the relationship with our people. Teaching our retail staff transferable skills empowered them as individuals, built trust and respect, enabled them to engage with customers, suppliers and each other in a professional manner. Their income improved through increased and more profitable sales which in turn had a positive effect on their personal and family life. When my staff’s core transferable skills grew, so did my business.
I moved from retail business management into tertiary education three years ago which has been an incredibly steep learning curve, but I have been able to continue my focus on transferable skills which is fantastic. I manage the practical internships nationwide for our learners studying at levels 4, 5 and 6. Half of each of the programmes we deliver are internships. In these practical placements the learner puts the theory from the classroom into practise. I completed my first ever teaching qualification in 2017 with the Open Polytechnic, and gained the National Certificate in Adult Education and Training Level 5. This course has helped me to improve my own teaching skills and has given me a better understanding of the industry I now find myself in. Having worked with technology retail and knowing the lifestyle benefits of connected devices, I now want to explore how technology can assist in the teaching and development of transferable skills for my learners. What type of social media should they use in a business environment versus their personal life? How can they use video conferencing to communicate and collaborate with people in different locations? What online tools can help them with their organisational skills? Which Apps can be used to help them with their self management or time management?
I look forward to exploring and discovering new tools that can support my learners not just while they are engaged in their studies and internships, but tools that can be used long after they graduate and become technology transferable skills for life.