A former pastry chef, retraining in engineering at Stockport College, has won a prestigious national learning award after her return to education.
Nikki-Ann (pictured) returned to education later in her life to retrain from a pastry chef, to pursuing a career in engineering after suffering life-changing injuries in a motorbike accident.
Despite undergoing several operations and suffering constant pain following her accident, Nikki became determined to forge a new route into work by studying GCSE Science at Stockport College before pursuing her dream of going to university following an Access to Engineering course at Trafford College.
From Nikki-Ann’s very first day back in education, her life has taken a completely new direction and she is currently working towards a masters and a career as a civil engineer.
While it took some time for Nikki-Ann to come to terms with the fact she’d lost the career she’d worked 16 years for, and she struggled with the first step back into learning after so long, she now feels that returning to education has given her a goal and focus to achieve new career goals.
Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part. Nikki-Ann has won the New Directions award, sponsored by Skills and Education Group.
Nikki-Ann, winner of the New Directions Award, said:
“I’m really excited about the potential of working in a job that can really bring about social change. I loved the high-end nature of my previous hospitality role and the competitive edge of being busy working in these kinds of kitchens, but returning to education gave me a goal and a focus for all the energy I had.”
Mark Readman, Access Tutor at Trafford College, said:
“Despite experiencing such clear physical and mental challenges in her recovery following her motorbike accident, Nikki-Ann literally got straight back on her bike on her return to education, which is no mean feat when you have been out of education for so long.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said:
“Nikki-Ann’s story demonstrates the life-changing and profound effect that learning can have on an individual’s health and career prospects. Heading back into learning following a serious accident took great courage, but has transformed Nikki-Ann’s life and led her to a new career path which she loves. We are delighted to present Nikki-Ann with this award and wish her every success in the future.
“Festival of Learning awards celebrate the commitment and achievements of outstanding adult learners, tutors, learning provision and employers. These stories show us how transformative lifelong learning can be for individuals, families, communities and society. As we look to build back better after the pandemic, we need to redouble our efforts to widen access to lifelong learning.”