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National Careers Week: Dan proves it’s never too late to reinvent your career


National Careers Week: Dan proves it’s never too late to reinvent your career

During National Careers Week the Combined Authority is looking at inspiring stories and sharing ways you can advance or change your career.

43-year-old Dan Arrowsmith from Peterborough had his academic ambitions dampened when he left school without any GCSEs and was told he should look for a vocational trade. Struggling with his dyslexia, Dan spent 22 years working in kitchens climbing the ranks to head chef before life became very difficult. Finding himself without work during the pandemic, Dan returned to college to retake his exams passing them with merits and distinctions.

Aged 42, Dan took on a challenge that many his age would not dream of doing and applied to ARU Peterborough, the city’s new university, to take on a biomedical degree.

ARU Peterborough is a major Combined Authority project, in partnership with Peterborough City Council, and Anglia Ruskin University.

Dan said: “I always had an interest in science but because I left school without any qualifications, I never really believed that I could do it. I spent 22 years working in kitchens and left after life became difficult.  I thought I would try my hand at plumbing, but the pandemic put a stop to that. After I retook and passed my exams, I wanted to explore a career I found interesting and that I could excel in. ARU Peterborough looked ideal as it was right on my doorstep, so I submitted my application and started my journey on a biomedical degree course.”

Despite his struggles at school, Dan has been able to thrive in a university environment. His tutors have provided him with support for his dyslexia and the range of modules and resources online have allowed him to study at home, away from distraction.

Alongside his academic studies, ARU Peterborough’s links with industry partners have allowed Dan to work part time in a biomedical laboratory, something that has enhanced his learning.

“The university got me the job at a local lab and it’s been great to be able to get that hands on experience with my degree course while also earning some money. Working in a lab is a lot like working in kitchens, so I think my previous experience is quite useful most of the time. Even with the academic side of things, I keep surprising myself with how well I’m doing. If I look back at where I was when I left school and how I am today, I feel really proud of what I have achieved.”

For Dan, going to university in his 40s has been a positive experience that has opened the door to opportunities he never knew he would be able to grasp. He is now using his experience to help people understand that it is never too late to learn.

“I feel more prepared for university life now in my 40s than I did when I was 18. I’ve had the chance to experience life, work in interesting places and all of that experience has helped me when learning something new. It’s never too late to learn or change your career path so long as you knuckle down and work hard at it, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.”

The Combined Authority’s investment in ARU Peterborough is with the aim of tackling a long-standing lack of higher education opportunity in the city. It’s curriculum is co-developed with local employers supporting the delivery of skills needed in the local economy.

To find out more about the courses on offer visit: https://www.aru.ac.uk/peterborough

To find out more about National Careers Week, visit: https://nationalcareersweek.com/