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May 2024 / Blog

It’s Learning at Work Week, a national campaign acknowledging the importance of upskilling and continuous development throughout your career.

As Wales’ leading training provider, improving lives through learning is at the heart of what we do at ACT. And our commitment to learning not only extends to the people we teach but also the staff that make up our business.

Rebecca Cooper, Head of People and Development at ACT, began her career with the organisation more than twenty years ago and has progressed to take the lead on some of the company’s most ambitious and integral projects.

We spoke to her about her career and how work-based learning has remained a constant throughout her journey.

How did you begin your career?

Whilst I didn’t struggle academically in school, I wasn’t really interested in studying during my later teenage years and so I left school at 16 with just one GSCE in Maths.

After a temporary basic admin role at 16, I started a national traineeship with The CADCentre and completed an NVQ in IT.

The CADCentre then employed me as an administrator, and I did this role for three years alongside working towards a part-time people development qualification in the evenings.

In June 2003, I started as an administrator with ACT, eventually working my way up to administration manager. I also began to take on some HR duties within ACT as I already achieved my CIPD Level 3 – this eventually led to me becoming HR and admin manager before focusing solely on HR as the company grew.

I’ve been very lucky as my development has always been wholeheartedly supported by ACT. I’ve gained so many qualifications over the years through both work-based learning and further education including Business Admin Level 3, ILM Level 5, CIPD Level 5 and more recently CIPD Level 7.

Did you always want a career in people and development?

Not really, when I was much younger, I wanted to be a lawyer. However, when I started working full-time, I saw HR as a good career path that suited my strengths.

How did work-based learning shape your understanding of your field and your role in it?

I have worked in work-based learning for 24 years now and have developed a vast amount of knowledge of the sector in that time. I’ve also seen a lot of change over the years, all of which have helped me to grow as a professional.

Without work-based learning and such a supportive employer that could see my potential I would not be where I am today. Work-based learning has given me many opportunities and helped me to put right some of the mistakes I made in my education as a teenager.

What are the most important skills you’ve obtained in your career?

As I have been with ACT such a long time, I have grown with the company so have had the privilege of working across most departments and roles, giving me extensive knowledge of how ACT operates.

This, alongside the knowledge and skills I have gained through the various levels of CIPD qualifications, has enabled me to become a trusted advisor to people at all levels of the company.

Where do you see the future of work-based learning and training going in P&D?

I believe work-based learning is slowly but surely gaining parity of esteem with other educational pathways which is brilliant to see but there is still more to do in this area. Within P&D, we are very much focused on emerging trends and challenges including wellbeing, automation and AI, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given throughout your career so far?

Never stop learning! The world changes so fast, if you stop learning you risk being left behind.

What training would you recommend for people starting their career in P&D?

Definitely the CIPD qualifications. Levels 3, 5 & 7 give you the appropriate level of knowledge and skills for various points in your career.

ALS Training currently deliver CIPD qualifications that are fully funded via the apprenticeship route. I can’t recommend them enough.