An unusual glass ceiling

Here’s a rather unusual story of someone hitting the glass ceiling, recounted to me recently by John himself.  No further comment needed.  But if anyone can point me to a good pictorial representation of the glass ceiling, I’d be really grateful.

John was a miner in the Llynfi valley in South Wales.   After ten years of working with machinery he became a fitter, “a spanner being lighter than a shovel”.  Then he hit what he called a glass ceiling – an unusual application of the image, given firstly that he’s a man and secondly that he was working underground…

Anyway, he applied for a job teaching first aid, at a mining training centre above ground.   He worked at the training centre for ten years but suffered from a crisis of confidence – who was he to be a teacher in a white coat, without a qualification to his name? 

Fortunately the crisis led to positive outcomes.  John got himself a personal tutor in basic skills.  After two years the tutor sent him on to do O levels, first in English and maths, and then in physics.  This led on to enrolment in the Open University. While waiting for the Open University course to start he did an O level course in computers. John gained a degree in Humanities. During this time John gained promotion going from a basic mining instructor to advanced mining instructor to Introducing computers into colliery training offices and training the staff to colliery Training Manager responsible for the training of 1100 staff. 

Not all went well – John was made redundant, got a job in a supermarket which he hated, since the boss was always telling him what to do whereas he was used to being trusted to do his job. so he left that. He then went on to a PGCE. Course, and now devotes himself to and teaches his hobby – of embroidery. 

John’s story is an unusual illustration in some ways.   It’s a partial example of the Peter Principle – John was promoted above his level of competence;  but it was he himself who saw his own incompetence and decided to do something about it.  It was his choice to leave that job.   It might have signalled failure, but it turned out be a very positive choice  which opened up further opportunities – onward progression both educationally and professionally.



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