North East charity worker Martin Kitching started his working life as a motor vehicle mechanic, but when the firm he worked for went bust he started looking into a different career in teaching.
Already an experienced Army Cadet Force (ACF) instructor, he took his vehicle mechanic skills, gained a Certificate of Education, and became a lecturer in a local college passing those skills on to his students.
That transition was to a large degree due to his knowledge and experience gained through the ACF.
“You have to have a subject specialism to teach, mine was motor vehicles, but it wasn’t the thing I was most confident in delivering, whereas the ACF’s military skills were something I was much more confident with.
“That worked quite well because I could be assessed by my lecturers on the motor vehicle side and also in the cadets on the military skills side.”
As Martin progressed within the ACF, securing an Army Reserve Commission and becoming an officer, he moved into running Durham’s adventurous training and outreach programmes.
He loves the challenges and activities this involves, and seeing the positive impact it has on the young cadets involved, so when five years ago, another adult volunteer in the ACF let him know about opportunities with Skillforce, Martin leapt at the chance.
Skillforce is a charity that works in schools, drawing on the skills of ex-Forces personnel, to inspire young people to succeed.
Martin’s ACF experience, both dealing with young people and managing adventurous training schemes were just what Skillforce were looking for.
During five years in his Skillforce job, he has helped mentor and guide vulnerable children and young adults into developing extra skills and positive approaches to the many challenges they face.
“It might sound like a busman’s holiday, but I made it that way because I thoroughly enjoy what I do for a living. I enjoyed being a mechanic, I really did, but I really had a passion for working with young people.
“There are a lot of similarities between my ACF and Skillforce role, but it’s what I enjoy!”
Given that match, many of Martin’s skills are directly transferable between the two.
The ACF has provided a host of opportunities for additional training and professional qualifications in youth management and adventurous training activities, and Skillforce gives the regular experience to keep current and competent in those skills. Skillforce also offers training to support Martin in his job, and his ACF role allows him to gain additional practice, becoming a more proficient and expert training resource for both organisations.
The confidence that brings has also made the whole experience much more enjoyable for Martin, and the combination of experiences and qualifications has greatly increased his value as a mentor and educator for young people.
“I don’t want to change the role I do, but I may want to change, potentially, the employer I work with or work with different types of young people and the ACF allows me to do that, gives me different experiences and really beefs up my CV massively.”