Real Stories

Lockdown Student Stories: Pete | CIPD Level 5 Review

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Pete Williams decided to take charge during lockdown and start studying his CIPD Level 5 Diploma with us online to earn the qualifications he needed to start a career in the HR field.


I found myself having a depressing lockdown. Six days before our collective lives were turned upside with the ‘stay at home’ guidance, I was made redundant. This double whammy knocked down my confidence and made me decide to reassess my priorities. 

After 15 years in sales management, working every weekend, every Christmas, I was exhausted. Chasing short term targets, serving the general public, and being unable to switch off had caught up with me. 

I knew that I did not want to continue in sales even though the money was excellent. The sudden nature of being told I was surplus to requirements was also a rude awakening. 

I was one of the best in the company with a track record of achievement that meant nothing in the business restructure. To put it bluntly, I felt betrayed, depressed, and lost.

Looking around for work was equally soul-destroying. Due to COVID-19, it felt like recruitment was a slow-go. The only things that my CV matched were other sales management roles and I was adamant this was not what I wanted to do with my life. 


I had leadership skills, a project management portfolio, and hands-on experience in people management yet seemingly every vacancy wanted what I did not have: a practical qualification. 


I had in-depth conversations with family and friends about what I wanted to do, and the choices seemed clear. I had to settle for a minimum wage job, go back to sales, or take a plunge and redefine myself on my own terms by getting professionally qualified.

I knew I loved people management, I had practical experience of hiring, coaching, training, and developing managers in my previous role and this had developed into a passion. 


Watching new starters develop and take control of their own career was the most rewarding part of my previous role and I had a ‘eureka’ moment.

This is what I wanted to do. Now I just needed to find where to start!


I looked at formal university courses, and they all seemed comprehensive and exciting.  I had gone to university 20 years ago, surely, I could do it again! 

Then the reality of the logistics hit home. I did not want to wait until September to learn, I wanted to get started!

The application process was terrifying, I could not find my old A-Levels or GSCE results. Contacting exam boards was difficult as my old school was closed.

How would I fit in the rigid nature of the course around childcare?  How would I earn money until then and for the next 18 months?


At this point, ICS Learn was recommended to me by a friend. I had a look on the website, and it seemed simple.


The course was identical to what I was looking at from a university, and it would be totally on my terms and around my learning schedule. 

As I am ever cautious, I decided to talk to the staff to get an understanding and ask questions. I spoke with Ciaran who was brilliant.

He took time to explain how the modules worked, the support options available, and how I could spread the cost of the course – which appealed to me as I was now unemployed. 


That day I signed up for a CIPD Level 5 Diploma in HR.  I was excited – and a little nervous!


Within 48 hours I had an email from my tutor welcoming me. I received log ins and passwords for the support website, access to YouTube recordings of lectures, Podcast recommendations, and required reading. 

The course layout was so simple and there was an online welcome lecture to help me navigate everything online from contacting people for help to how to structure an essay with Harvard referencing.

I have now been studying for a few weeks and have attended online lectures, completed my first assignment, and read loads of informative content on HR Management. 

Whilst lockdown (and redundancy) does mean that I have more time to study, I am eager to do more and more as the work is genuinely interesting. It doesn’t feel like I am studying, it feels like I am learning!

This has reaffirmed that what I want to do is work in HR and ICS Learn has given me the confidence that going back to studying at 37 is not too late. 


I will use this qualification to start a job in HR Management and have a career I will be proud of. 


After adding to my CV that I’m working towards a CIPD qualification through ICS Learn, I have already had three employers shortlist me for the next stage in recruitment for jobs that I actually want to do!

I cannot recommend ICS Learn enough. Since I joined, I have recommended two people who have also started online courses and they are having the same positive experience as me. 

Lockdown can give people choices and opportunities. Being locked down could be about catching up with Netflix or developing some form of ‘cabin fever’ or it can be about bettering yourself. 


ICS Learn is uniquely placed to support development during this time, and I am so happy that I found it.


It has given me purpose, something to do in the day, and most importantly it will lead me to a career that I know I will be successful in.



Inspired by Pete's story? Learn more about how we can help you get on track for the career you've always wanted with a professional CIPD qualification. 

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