Returning to learning

If you want to change your career, develop new skills or just meet new people, then getting back into learning could be the answer. You can get free advice to help you decide on your next steps.

Returning to learning after a break

Learning can be enjoyable and it’s a great way to catch up on anything you missed out on at school - or prepare for your next career move. Skills are becoming more and more important in today’s workplace and doing a course could open up new job options. Whatever your reasons for returning to learning, there’s lots of support available to help you.

Free careers advice

The Careers Service offers free and impartial advice by phone, webchat, in person or by email.

A careers adviser can help you identify your goals and help you with CVs, interviews and action plans. In addition, you'll be able to get information on any financial help that may be available. You can also book a free call back at a time to suit you, or email a learning adviser with your question.

Understanding your strengths

Living in the modern world means having to learn new things all the time. Even if you haven’t been in a classroom for years, you’ve probably still been picking up the key skills needed to make you a successful learner:

  • organising your time
  • asking questions
  • listening to people
  • recognising your strengths
  • working out how to solve problems

Finding the right course

Don’t be put off if you're not keen on exams as there are many courses which let you show what you’ve learned in a less formal way. Assessments can also mean:

  • building up a portfolio of work as you go along
  • a practical demonstration of your skills

Many courses offer you the chance to study in a way that suits you, so you can fit learning around other commitments. You could consider a course that lets you do some or all of your studying at home. This type of course is called ‘self-study’, ‘distance learning’, ‘open learning’ or ‘e-learning’.

Considering higher education

Most universities have a significant number of ‘mature’ students and will often consider a range of qualifications when looking at applications. You may also find that you’re given credit for previous work experience.

If there isn’t a university near you and you can’t move away, many colleges also offer higher education courses.

Student finance is also available, including in some cases, extra financial help if you have children.

Access to higher education courses

If your qualifications don't meet the standard entry requirements for higher education, one option is an Access course. You don’t necessarily need any formal qualifications to do an Access course and it allows you to develop study skills, knowledge and confidence.

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