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Learning at work whilst deployed in Bahrain

17 May 2018
There are many opportunities for serving Armed Forces personnel to learn new skills whilst undertaking their primary roles, and this opportunity has not been lost on two key members of the newly opened United Kingdom Naval Support Facility (UKNSF) located in Bahrain.

Petty Officer Physical Trainer (POPT) Andrew ‘Dickie Davidson’ (31) is currently undertaking a BA(Hons) in Business Management, no small task when responsible for the physical fitness of all deployed UK personnel in Bahrain, as well as being very busy setting up the fantastic CV and weights facilities now available in the newly opened UKNSF.

Dickie joined the Navy at the age of 17½ and has been a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) for 9 years. He sees the completion of his degree as a major step in his aim of gaining a commission and becoming an officer.

This is his first attempt at any form of distance learning. He said: “It’s certainly a challenge. You’re balancing time away from home, with the lack of family support, the operational tempo while working in theatre while trying to do your day job at the same time.”

Dickie started the degree at the University of Northumbria in September 2017, aided by funding from the Armed Forces Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme (ELCAS) and has only one more module and the dissertation to go, expecting to finish the work in September 2018.

Eager to advise others considering a distance learning opportunity, Dickie said: “Prepare for giving up a lot of your personal time. It’s a big commitment. Use your time wisely, don’t cram it. It’s all about baby steps; little and often.”

Speak to your Education Officer first. Mine was so helpful and she got me into courses that could be mostly funded through ELCAS. But definitely do it. I’ve got so much out of it and the future is so much brighter for my little girl

Leading Writer Keiron Molyneux

Another member of the UKNSF team taking full advantage of ‘earning whilst you are learning’ is Leading Writer (LWtr) Keiron Molyneux (30). Keiron joined the Navy at the age of 21 with only a GCSE in Art, but the birth of his daughter Lucy five years ago motivated him to develop himself in order to better provide for her future.

He said: “Sailors often think they’ll get work because of their experience, but they need to have education to back it up. Graduates often think they’ll get work because of their degree, but they have little work experience.

"Doing it my way, funded partially by the Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme, I’ll be graduating with 10 years of relevant work experience and a degree that’s only cost me £500 per year, so I have no debt either.”

Keiron started off by completing a City and Guilds license in Leadership and Management, a Level 4 award that allowed him to start a foundation degree in Logistics Management.

This led onto him studying a BA (Hons) in Business and Administration Management with the University of Lincoln, which he intends to complete shortly and graduate in November 2018.

Reflecting further, Keiron said: “It’s not been easy, distance learning. The internet connection before we moved into the new accommodation at the UKNSF wasn’t always reliable.

"The questions in the syllabus were open to interpretation and the lack of communication with the lecturers meant that you lacked guidance before submitting work that turned out to be wrong. I’ve made good progress though, despite this.”

Regarding advice for other students in the military, he said: “Speak to your Education Officer first. Mine was so helpful and she got me into courses that could be mostly funded through ELCAS. But definitely do it. I’ve got so much out of it and the future is so much brighter for my little girl.”

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