Choosing a career path at any time in life is hard enough, but it’s even tougher when you’re thinking of re-training as an adult. Maybe you’ve already got a steady income, and you’ll need to take some time out of work to re-train; or maybe your children have grown up and you’re thinking about getting into work again – or even for the first time.
Although there are lots of free courses in basic skills such as maths and English available for adults, most courses require some kind of funding. The Money Advice Service has information on funding for adults in further education. Click here for more details.
Getting your funding sorted is probably one of the first things on your mind – it may even be the barrier stopping you doing something you really love.
If you’re over 24, the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan may be something to consider. They’ve replaced some loans for adult learners and you’re able to combine them with a student loan for higher education. You only start to pay the loans off once you start earning over £21,000 but, as with other lending, you should consider your ability to pay back the money – especially as these loans are slightly different to others in that no credit check will be done and your household income will not be assessed during your application.
You can look at your potential income and outgoings using widely-available online budget planning tools. Most banks have online budget planners and the handy money stretcher tool from the Money Advice Service may also help.
Once you’ve got your funding sorted, there’s no stopping you. Maybe you already have a clear idea about what you want to do, or maybe you’re just starting to think about options. Organisations such as the NHS proactively target those looking to change career, and have a whole range of potential roles and entry routes available – and they don’t all require years and years of training.
Chris Willis joined the NHS as a qualified electrician and is now Patient Environment Manager at the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He explains his journey: “As a qualified electrician, I took the decision to join the NHS as a maintenance assistant and it has turned out to be a great decision! I had the satisfaction of being promoted twice – to electrical craftsman and then to day technician. I’m now a patient environment manager, as well as being in the final year of a degree course in electrical engineering.”
From formal degrees and diplomas, to on-the-job training, there are a wide range of opportunities. Check out the options on the dedicated NHS Careers website.
If you’re looking for more general inspiration about which career may be right for you, the Guardian’s careers pages recommend a range of ways of finding out what really lights your fire career-wise. From psychometric tests to work experience, there are lots of things you can do to look at different careers before you decide what you want to do.
Have you thought about retraining? I’d love to hear from you if you have.