From education to employment

South Birmingham College course leads to own company and part time tutor post

A former MG Rover worker has set up her own tiling company and become a part time construction tutor”“ all after attending a course with South Birmingham College.

Along with her husband, Colleen Rai was one of around 5,000 workers made redundant when the Longbridge based car plant went out of business in 2005.

The 44 year-old from Bartley Green had worked at the company for 15 years ““ first in the paint shop and then as a team assistant in the offices.

After being made redundant Colleen joined a group of colleagues on a taster course in construction with South Birmingham College. She was so taken with the tiling session that she decided to enroll on the full time Intermediate Construction Award. She did so well that she was even presented with the High Achiever award for Construction Learning and Development Units at by The Apprentice star Ruth Badger at the annual College awards evening.

Since completing the one year condensed course in 2006 Colleen’s has gone from strength to strength. She has not only set up her own company, C. Rai Tiling Services, but also works as a visiting tutor in the College’s tiling department. Her husband has also retrained and got a job with British Gas.

Colleen says she cannot believe how her fortune has changed: “I really liked tiling during the taster course. I think it was because I am into arts and crafts and like doing things with my hands.

“I can”t believe that I now have my own company and work as a tutor, it’s fantastic. I always have about three or four weeks tiling work in front of me. Although I do think a women’s touch helps in the business ““ I think customers contact my business because they believe women will pay more attention to the job.”

Colleen said her ultimate goal was to be a full time tutor at the College, to give back the help it gave her.

Brian Cecconi, Colleen’s tiling tutor, said he was delighted with her success: “She had no tiling experience before and now she is good enough to be a full time lecturer, which I would really like her to become,” he said.

“She was so keen to learn and her story shows how you can turn your fortunes around if you put your mind to it. She is an inspiration.”

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