Learning and Training: It’s not just for the young

By J&C Team

Summer is over but the Autumn winds of change could bring new opportunities. Now might be the time to start thinking about what skills you could update to help you advance your career or to find work. Learning doesn’t stop when we reach adulthood.  In a constantly changing world with new technologies and fast moving progression, businesses value people who keep their skills up to date and add to their skillset.

Making a conscious decision to take part in training courses that develop specific skills or study a subject of interest has a number of benefits, which include:

  • Opening up new opportunities not available to us before;
  • Increasing confidence by discovering things we are good at;
  • Being able to do things for yourself rather than relying on someone else.

It is impossible to know everything at the outset of your career so engaging in continuing professional development shows you have the latest knowledge available and that you are equipped for change.

Did you know there is a variety of ways you can access training and learning opportunities?

  •  Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn while you learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification.  They are available in a range of sectors, with over 100,000 employers are offering Apprenticeships in more than 200,000 locations.  Many adults already work for their employer when they start an apprenticeship so why not have a chat with your manager to see how you can update your training through a formal apprenticeship.  If you are unemployed an apprenticeship could provide you with an opportunity to gain new skills and get paid.
  • Part/Full Time College Courses suit people who need a more traditional way of learning with the structure and support of a classroom, teacher and social contact with other students.  There are many opportunities for gaining a qualification at different levels. Some are vocation based, others concentrate on a particular subject. Levels range from basic qualifications to university degrees and diplomas. You can find out more about Courses and Learning   at your local college.
  • Home Study and Open Learning can be an option if you need some flexibility.  Let’s face it for most young people gaining an education is their job but you may have  a full or part time job, a relationship and a home and family to look after so adding a course to your busy schedule could be juggling act.  Self-study will allow you to choose the hours that make the most sense for you and plan this into your lifestyle. Open Learn provides the option to try out learning materials and modules for free so you can check out if home study is right for you.

As a Careers adviser it is common to hear people say they would love to learn new things or develop skills for their career if they could afford it.  Unless you have won the lottery costs will always be a concern but there may be financial support available.  The government has just plugged a funding gap for older learners who would not have previously been eligible to receive funding. So you might be able to apply for the new 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. There may also be other Funding options available depending on your circumstances.

The brain needs to be exercised so take the plunge and see where learning can take you.

 – By Patricia White, National Careers Service adviser