Qualifications and courses for over-50s
Late learning can be fun and improve your skills. Why not find time to learn a new language, develop your hobby with a specialist course, or investigate work-based learning or an academic degree?
Older learners and qualifications
Qualifications prove that you have specific skills, whether practical, intellectual or social. There are academic qualifications, where you reach certain educational standards, and vocational qualifications, which are more about practical skills and show you're qualified for a particular job or vocation.
If you're learning for leisure, qualifications probably won't be your ultimate goal. It's more about pursuing an interest further in a more structured way, though it could be a stepping stone to more formal learning later.
- Adult learning (education, learning and skills section)
- Guide to qualifications (education, learning and skills section)
What help and advice is available for the over-50s?
You can get free, impartial advice and guidance from the Careers Service Northern Ireland. A Careers Adviser can help you develop an action plan based on your skills and interests.
- Careers Service Northern Ireland - telephone 0300 200 7820
- Choosing the right course (education, learning and skills section)
Learning to suit your lifestyle
You'll need to find a way of learning that suits your circumstances, whether you're home or work-based, want to learn part-time or full-time in the evenings, days or at weekends, or even on holiday or as a volunteer.
Find a course near you
Colleges and most universities offer courses for mature students. Some useful addresses to enable you to contact your local college are at the following link.
If you're one of the six million plus aged over 50 in work , you might think about work-based learning to add value to your career. You could get a university level qualification without taking time off work.
Talk to your human resources team at work or your union about courses.
Learning through voluntary work
Volunteering is a great way to use your skills to help others, and at the same time learn something new which may lead to a qualification. There are many volunteering opportunities so it's worth thinking about what you want to do and what you want to get out of it.
Help with costs
Some courses are free for later learners, depending on your circumstances. There are benefits for all students, including mature students, through grants and bursaries, according to need. If you're learning through work, your employer or trade union may help with costs.
Advice can be obtained from the Careers Service or your local college.
More useful links
- Find personal learning and careers advice (education and learning section)