Talk with a Trainer: Maria Theodorou

< back to news

You’ve been an Employability trainer for about six years now, training thousands of people! You seem to have the same zest for it as the day you started with us. How’s that possible?

I honestly believe my motivation comes from helping learners of all possible levels, backgrounds, cultures and learning needs regain confidence and self esteem. For me, it’s all about identifying the range of skills, abilities and qualities they never realised they had.

It’s a tremendous feeling to help learners overcome barriers and limitations while exploring different jobs they can and would like to do. I

In essence, I’m lucky to be able to help people take the first steps to get from where they are now to where they want to be.

Students always seem so motivated after your courses, no matter their background. How do you do it?

I don’t think they realise it but they are the key contributors! I try to create a safe, comfortable and stimulating learning environment where everyone is valued and their input and interaction beneficial. Peer learning builds confidence.

They have a genuine opportunity to reflect what they have of value and assess the way forward – exploring different realistic job/training options. That is truly universal!

Looking back on the years, can you give us a sample of success stories stick that stick out in your memory?

Goodness where do I start!

I remember this wonderful lady who was tragically suddenly widowed. She had four children and had never worked. When I asked what skills she felt she had she responded “none really, I’ve only ever been a parent.” So not only did she recognise and appreciate useful workplace skills she had but had enough confidence to apply – and get – a part time job in retail, which was ideal for her.

Another was a a man in his late 30s, who due to severe depression walked out of his job one day – and never left his house for 3 years. He finally ventured out but was prone to panic attacks.

On day one of the course, he said that he didn’t think he would be able to see the week through. He did, made good friends, and was able to create a very good CV. He also understood that the 3.5 year gap did not have to go against him.

What do you think makes Strive’s employability course so different to others out there?

Having worked for a number of different providers, the first thing that stands out for me is that Strive so truly care about the learners and what real value they can get of from the courses.

And you know, it’s not only whilst they’re on the course but also post-course. They are able to contact Strive and the Tutors for further support with job applications, CVs, Cover Letters and so on.

Strive Training ensure that these values and integrity is mirrored in the Tutors they invite to join the team.

And of course, the digital EmployabilityPlus platform is amazing – it makes things so straightforward for learners to create, edit, manage and send their CVs – and apply for jobs. And learners have lifetime access to it!

Can you tell us a little bit more about Strive’s EmployabilityPlus digital CV platform. What can students do with it?

The worst feeling is staring at a blank Word doc when you start to create a CV. No more! EmployabilityPlus makes things so straightforward for learners to have a great looking CV – and more. The tools includes eye-catching templates, the ability uploading certificates, work samples, videos, and more. Many learners feel quite proud with this and it helps to build confidence.

Learners can send their digital CV via the platform, and track it to see if it’s been opened by the recipient. They can also download them as Word or PDF docs.

There are tens of thousands of live jobs posted on the platform as well.

Students seem to really enjoy the skills diagnostic they start off with. What’s this tool about, and why is it included?

The skills diagnostic provides learners with a lost of jobs that they may wish to consider based on their unique personality, interests, education levels and transferable skills. It is a huge boost and help for many learners as it realistically helps them to explore jobs they had not thought of before and which could be viable for them to apply. Equally for those who know what career they want but unsure how to pursue because don’t have the qualifications they think they may need. It’s confidence boosting because they have a lot of control over their choices and how the tool is used.

How do less “digitally confident” students react to the digital innovations the course offers?

Initially some “less digitally confident” learners feel a little insecure about use the digital systems but once they get going with support and encouragement their confidence is significantly boosted because they can follow the steps intuitively and practically. It’s about helping them to overcome fear of using digital systems – which is so important in both their professional and personal lives.