“Every empty seat in education is an opportunity lost” Dr Dan Matthews, author of 8 Principles of Further Education
Dr Dan Matthews had little interest or hope in his career path before he decided to access further education at 26 years old. Now with a successful business career under his belt, he is a lecturer at the University of Gloucester and the number one selling author of a book about progressing your career through education.
In my mid-twenties I found myself working as a street sweeper. I had left school, married and had a child. A workplace disciplinary led me to this position but I knew I could do better. But how was I going to progress? I needed to educate myself but at the time there was no obvious pathway, no guide, no book or internet advice.
I started with a level 5 certificate and diploma in management studies, moved onto level 7 extended diploma in strategic management and leadership and quickly progressed to an MBA at the University of Gloucestershire. I continued at the University of Gloucester to complete my PhD and now lecture there in facilities management. This education, all achieved within 11 years, has also enabled me to become so much. As well as a university lecturer, I was a company director, a senior level regional manager and an author.
The UK is currently experiencing many half-empty classrooms – especially in the further education sector – meaning that people are missing out on opportunities to progress their knowledge and develop. Every empty seat in education is an opportunity lost. If you know more today than you did yesterday, you are more valuable as an employee.
Further education changed my life not only in terms of my career but in helping me build relationships with superb teachers and influential characters. Education progresses your knowledge and develops you as a person. My book provides the guidance I wish I could have had. I have written it because I know that access to education later in life could benefit so many more people.
I joined the IoD because I was frustrated with the lack of benefit I was getting from my memberships with other institutions. I find my IoD membership to be engaging and enjoyable. Everyone I have met seems motivated to talk with others and share their own experiences, which is not the same in all other institutions. Having explored the IoD’s educational offering I am certain that directors who want to improve their knowledge in this field should look no further.
As an IoD Education and Skills Ambassador my aim is to promote the training opportunities provided by the IoD – and to explain how accessible they are. I have completed some IoD online courses and hope to take the Director training programme myself soon so that I can share my personal experiences of the learning process.
If I had to advise someone who has no formal qualifications but who is motivated to progress, I would say start your further education today. Find something that you will enjoy and that will benefit you – either personally or occupationally – and get going.