Bdr Michael Cooper has served in the Army for 15 years: 13 in the Royal Armoured Core, The Queens Royal Hussars, operating Challenger 2, and for two years as an Unmanned Air Vehicle Commander piloting Hermes 450. Asked to tell us about his civilian qualifications he has obtained during his Service career, he lists:
- BTEC level 3 – RAPD (Aviation Operations on the Ground)
- ECDL – BCS (European Computer Driving License)
- Functional Skills, City & Guilds – English and Maths level 2
- Modern Apprenticeship – EMTA (Engineering Foundation)
- NVQ – City & Guilds (Engineering Maintenance)
- NVQ – EAL (Health & Safety)
- NVQ – EAL (Basic Engineering Drawing Measuring Marking Out)
- NVQ – EAL (Basic Engineering Materials)
Using Enhanced Learning Credits for retraining
He tells us that he registered for ELCs, ‘a few years ago while with the QRH, to allow for further education.’ Having highlighted his preferred career path in the ROV industry, he has so far undertaken an impressive array of courses, including SQA ROV Piloting Skills, taken at The Underwater Centre, Fort William. The course was, he says, ‘very well run’ and offered a good academic/vocational mix, as well as, importantly, the base qualifications required for an ROV pilot/tech in the ROV industry.
Invaluable hands-on ROV piloting and maintenance
‘The classroom-based learning was intense and hard going at first due to my having little or no understanding of the subject matter but, with revision and a lot of home study in the evening, it soon came together and made sense. It was a seven-week intensive ROV Pilot Technician Course, consisting of four weeks’ electronic classroom-based learning (so those without an electrical background could gain the base skills required) followed by a more ROV-orientated three weeks, consisting of basic hydraulic and associated systems, while also gaining invaluable hands-on piloting and maintenance skills with the SAAB Seaeye observation ROV.’
Having taken this course, he is pleased to report that, ‘I now have the skills required of potential employees, and subsequently have found employment in my preferred position.’
Advice for Service leavers
Asked if he has any advice for other Service people registering for or using ELCs, he responds, ‘Make sure you research in-depth your chosen career path and ensure its future viability; also ensure that you submit the correct paperwork in good time to allow for any potential costly errors to be rectified.’
‘Knowing that I have three lots of £2,000 to use in the next ten years to gain further qualifications is nice!’
This article originally appeared in Quest magazine, November 2014, page 28, available to view here.
If you’re leaving the forces and have a background in electronics, engineering, hydraulics or mechanics, then the ROV industry could be looking for you. Find out more about training to be an ROV Pilot Technician here.