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European Vocational Skills Week
News announcement20 November 2017Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion1 min read

Getting her life into shape


Sheena, an early school leaver from Ireland, wanted a better future. A sports-based training course and vocational qualification opened up a new world of possibilities.
Gym instructor Sheena Matthews used to have a very different outlook on life and her future. “I remember the situation I was in before,” she says. “I had no idea what I wanted to do. I never had any direction or goals.”
Having left school at 14, Sheena found herself restricted to basic level jobs and struggling to support herself and her baby. She was determined to change things and make a better life for her family, and the inspiration she’d been searching for came from an unexpected place.
“I remember going to an aerobics class and seeing the instructor,” she explains. “She looked great and she seemed so together. I said to myself ‘I want to do her job’.”
That instructor told Sheena about Spoirt Tech, a local training initiative backed by the ESF, and she jumped at the chance to enrol. Joining the course allowed Sheena to gain an internationally recognised qualification as a sports coach or fitness instructor, which then led to jobs in gyms and health centres once she’d graduated. Eventually her career took her full circle and became a Spoirt Tech tutor herself.
“I really wanted to get a job as a tutor,” she recalls. “I wasn’t going to give up. I’ve learnt how to set goals and go after them.”
Want to find out more? Check out the links below:
About the project
Opening pathways to work (ESF website)


  • Adult learner/employee