Retraining & Further Education

Retraining or returning to education to learn new skills is a positive step if you have lost your job. You may have been made redundant and the market place for your skills is limited, in which case you could see this as an opportunity to retrain. Maybe you know redundancy or dismissal is imminent and you want to proactively look for a way to get out of the industry you have been in.

It could be that you are looking for a complete change of direction. In any of these situations you can retrain to gain a new set of skills. You can also use education to utilise and improve on the skills you already have to allow you to move in another direction.

You can start by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • 1. What skills do I have?
  • 2. What would I like to do every day?
  • 3. How important is financial security?

You can start to answer question 1 by completing a SWOT and analysing your strengths and weaknesses. Another way to identify your skills is to work with a coach. Life Coaches are highly skilled in identifying and focussing on strengths and weaknesses and how these could affect your future career.

Question 2 shouldn’t be a confined list - if you are starting down a new path don't stop yourself, brainstorm, use your imagination and think about the jobs you've always wanted in your perfect world.

Question 3 is about deciding where your priorities lie and if they suited you in your last role. Have you done a budget and do you know how much you actually need to live on? Ask yourself whether a regular income and the size of your income are important or vital to your lifestyle. It may be that other aspects of a job are much more important to you than a big salary.

The answers to these questions will arm you with information to make some decisions when researching and applying for retraining or education. You may also want to look at career tools and psychometric testing to identify work areas that suit your personality.

Once you have ideas about your skills and what you want from your future you can start in-depth research. You can start with a site such as DirectGov Education & Learning. The site has specific sections devoted to adult learning, how to find the right retraining courses, including free advice on matching courses with your existing skills and interests. It also details how you can brush up existing skills, finding and applying for courses and financial support for adult learners.

If you already have a clear idea of what you want from a future career there are loads of sector specific websites. If you fancy the travel trade check out Plumbing the thing for you? Try

If you think spending some time in education will help you achieve your goals then approach your Local Authority, local University or Further Education College for details of courses available. The support for mature students is excellent with most colleges and universities having staff dedicated to people returning to education after a break.

The range and style of courses available is vast, from straightforward degree to more hands on HND/NVQ courses. Education is now incredibly flexible and doesn't have to involve full time study, many universities including the Open University offer distance and part time learning whilst a wide variety of courses are offered by Learn Direct