Upskill and retrain

Increasing your skills and knowledge is important if you are looking to change careers or are looking for a promotion. But where can you go if you’d like to retrain or learn something new? Fortunately, there are lots of opportunities to increase your knowledge and take your first steps towards a new job or career. However like a pay rise, a promotion or a new job, training is something you need to pursue yourself.

Identifying training needs

One of the first steps you need to take is to try to identify what training you might need in order to change career or get that new job. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are whether you need to learn:

  • A small, specific skill, a particular technique, tool or process that you might be able to learn in a few hours. For example: using social media.
  • A skill that requires practice and gradual improvement to help you change jobs – for example learning a new piece of software, or learning project management skills.
  • A brand new set of skills to help you switch career? E.g. if you currently work in retail but want to retrain as a civil engineer.
  • Core skills such as English and Maths. These are skills very often needed to access a wide range of jobs. identifying training needs.

Once you know this, you’ll have an idea whether what the new skills you want are something you can learn yourself or something you need help with through a short course or part time or full time learning.

You can access free information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work from the National Careers Service: or call 0800 100 900.

skills health check

Skills health check

The National Careers Service offers a free Skills Health Check.

This check is a set of quizzes and activities designed to help you explore your skills, interests and motivations. Working through the Skills Health Check can help you decide what kind of jobs might be right for you. You’ll be able to download your report once you’ve completed at least one assessment:

Improve your Maths & English

You need basic reading, writing and maths skills to apply for m`ost jobs or to study further.

However, did you know that if you’re over 16 and you’ve left school, you normally don’t have to pay to learn:

  • English or Maths to GCSE level
  • English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • Some Information and Communication Technology (ICT) courses

If there is a fee, you may be entitled to Discretionary Learner Support:

You can use the National Careers Service course finder: to help find a course, or call the helpline: 0800 100 900 - 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

Where to train and learn

There are lots of ways in which you can learn new skills. Check out our article on free ways to learn to some great ideas.

Register for a course

It may be that the skills and knowledge that you need for your new job or career need you to go on a more formal course or you may need a particular qualification. Fortunately, Essex is home to lots of excellent colleges, training providers and universities.

If you are unsure of how they can help, they all can be contacted by phone or you can visit them in person to discuss your individual training needs. There are a wide range of different courses on offer including full time study, part-time study, distance learning and Apprenticeships.

All of these have a variety of different entry requirements so it is really important to find out what these are before applying to do the course. You can find out about the training providers in Essex by visiting their websites. We have listed in on this site in the 'find a local provider' section.

Why not consider an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship gives you hands on experience, a salary and the opportunity to gain qualifications while you work - even a degree. All of this with some high quality, prestigious companies in loads of different industries.

Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers and young people; there is no upper age limit and if you’re over 16, living in England and not in full-time education then you’re eligible to become an apprentice.

How could an apprenticeship help you?

  • Are you thinking about changing career?
  • Are you moving into your first job?
  • Have you been promoted into a new role that requires you to take on new responsibilities or skills?
  • Are you looking to boost your income?

Find out more...

For all of these reasons and many more, an apprenticeship could be the right step for you. You can find out more about apprenticeships here:

Your current employer may also be able to support you in getting an apprenticeship and understanding funding opportunities too.

Accessing loans & financing training

The government-funded Advanced Learner Loan is to help pay tuition fees. It’s available to people over 19 years old studying courses at Levels 3 - 6.

Courses covered could include A levels and the Access to HE Diploma (Level 3), and vocational or professional qualifications.To find out if the course you want to study is eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan, contact the course provider.

You can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help with the costs of a course at a college or training provider in England:

Things to consider:

  • Applications can be made through the Student Loans Company
  • It doesn’t take your household income into account or involve a credit check.
  • Repayments are linked to what you earn and not how much you borrowed.
  • You only have to start making repayments when you’ve finished your course and you’re earning over £21,000 per year.
  • You should apply for this loan after you have been accepted onto a course by a training provider.


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