WHEN it comes to IT skills or being a whizz on the computer, it is generally the younger generation leading the way.
But a group of pensioners have shown that it’s never too late to learn after passing IT and web design courses with flying colours at the Pennypit Centre in Prestonpans.
The centre, which works with local groups and agencies to provide an educational service and community hub for residents in Prestonpans, provided the IT outreach course in partnership with Edinburgh College.
Among the group of students, who are in their 60s and 70s, is 75-year-old Helen Cherry.
The IT core skills student, who lives in Prestonpans, said: “When I first came to the centre, I couldn’t work a computer. I really only wanted to learn the basics at first and never dreamt I’d get a qualification out of it.
“Now I use the computer all the time. In fact, I keep in touch with my family in Australia by using Skype every week!”
Helen added: “The course at the Pennypit Centre is a great way to meet new people, get out of the house and do something new.
“We’ve got a brilliant teacher and I enjoy every minute of it.” Fellow IT core skills student, Sarah Garrity, who lives in Prestonpans, added: “I was just so surprised when my SQA certificate came through the door.
“I was amazed I had gained a qualification in IT – I thought I’d never be able to do that. It just proves that you’re never too old to learn.”
Both Helen and Sarah recently finished the Intermediate 1 IT core skills course. They are now studying IT core skills at Intermediate 2, with the course getting under way at the start of August and set to finish on July 31 next year.
Edinburgh College lecturer Louise Grace said: “I’m very proud that all of our students have done so well in their IT and web design courses.
“They’ve not only developed excellent practical skills, but they’ve also grown in confidence and have made new friends. It’s been great fun to teach them all.” She added: “We offer a variety of courses at the Pennypit Centre, including computing core skills, ECDL, digital photography and web design, which offer learning opportunities for everyone in the local community who may not ordinarily have the option to attend or travel to college.”
Many students use the Pennypit Centre as a stepping stone to further education or as a springboard to a career.
Karen McClung, modern apprentice contracts manager at Edinburgh College, said: “The Pennypit Centre helped me immensely and was a terrific resource. The course helped me work towards my HNC place in administration and information technology, and after that I managed to get a job in the college, where I’ve now been for the past six years.”