SAM Green, 26, from Renfrewshire, was at a loss when she found herself out of work after her career with the police ended prematurely due to injury. With no qualifications, she felt lost and unsure what to do next. She contacted the Scottish Wider Access Programme, who helped her identify her transferable skills, and how they would be a perfect fit for a career in occupational therapy. Sam studied Access to Health and Biological Sciences at Glasgow Clyde College’s Cardonald campus, where she is now in her final year of her Occupational Therapy degree.

It’s a position that thousands of workers in Scotland potentially face as the risk of redundancy grows as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the last few months, more than 628,000 workers in Scotland have been furloughed and thousands have lost their job. While businesses are beginning to reopen, redundancy has become a growing concern as many companies don’t expect to return to pre-Covid levels of business.

But this time on furlough may well have provided opportunity to reflect and consider career options – or switching professions.

Growing up, some people dreamed of being a scientist or teacher, but feel that dream is out of reach. Certainly, many adults think the boat has sailed on educational opportunities – the best-paid jobs can often require a degree and if you didn’t do well in exams, or sit any at all, it’s easy to assume you can never become a nurse, a criminologist, a doctor or a lawyer.

However, the Scottish Wider Access Programme was developed to provide those with no qualifications with a direct route to university. By studying for a year at college, those who pass the course are guaranteed a place at one of Scotland’s universities.

Being part of a cohort of mature students who have chosen to return to study is a great environment to learn in, and the most popular courses, in nursing and primary teaching, commonly have an 85-90% pass rate as a result. As we reach the end of the furlough support scheme, we may see many intelligent adults left without employment. But this could be viewed as an opportunity to revisit old dreams and retrain in a profession that’s not as out of reach as it may seem.

John Rafferty is assistant principal of health and wellbeing at Glasgow Clyde College