DR ANDREW UPTON, LEARNING FOR ALL: Website Software and IT User Skills training

Like many of our learners Andrew came to DPN looking for training to help him with a new business venture. After a long and successful career in Higher Education, most recently as the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Learning and Teaching at Falmouth University, it was time for Andrew to become his own boss. In May 2014 he started Learning for All, a business with a clear focus to improve the quality of education. Learning for All provides improvement and development services for schools, trusts and higher and further education. Andrew has developed a network of carefully selected associates that can cover all areas of education. With the experience and expertise in hand, all that was needed was for Andrew to begin advertising his services but for this to be possible he needed a strong website to act as his ‘shop window.’

Although he knew that he could pay any number of website developers to do the work for him Andrew was looking for something a little different. He wanted a website that he would have complete control of and as a start up business his budget was tight. Andrew explains, “If you hire somebody to do it you don’t have full control. I wanted the opportunity and skills to be able to do it myself.”  Andrew asked around for guidance on the matter and it was at this point that he was advised to contact DPN and enquire about training opportunities.

Andrew enrolled on a beginner’s web development course where he would learn how to use popular online software WordPress to build a website from scratch. The training also covered the skills required to use IT systems properly so that Andrew could ensure that he was managing his digital work safely and securely.

DPN were able to provide Andrew with a free place on the course by accessing ESF funding from the Skills Support for the Workforce project. By providing Andrew with cost free training it meant that he was able to focus more of his resources in the other elements of starting up his business.

Andrew attended the course and was delighted by the amount that he was able to learn. By the end of the training Andrew had a website that he was proud to represent his business with and a variety of new skills that he would be able to apply with confidence.

“I feel very confident to manage, develop and add additional content to my website. One of the key things that [the tutor] said was that you can’t break a website. It gives somebody who is not fully digital competent the confidence to have a go” Andrew expressed, adding that “[The Tutor] is extremely good and if the other tutors are anything like her then the quality at DPN is incredibly high. I also liked that [the tutor] knew everything about accessible websites.”

Since the training Andrew’s business has made a great start. He was immediately able to share his website and get his work known and has so far had a great response, telling us that “I have sent [the website] to various colleagues and the feedback has been really positive, particularly about the clarity and design. Opportunities have opened up and I am now working on a number of exciting projects.”

Andrew’s story is just one example of how the ESF has impacted businesses in Cornwall, and he is thankful for the opportunity that DPN has been able to provide him with adding that:

“A final point is to mention the value of EU funding. It is really important for DPN to exist to enable people like myself to gain the skills required to give my business the best possible start.”

Andrew’s website can be found at: http://www.learningforall.org.uk