Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Learning for work

Whether you’re looking for a job or looking to get on in your career, improving your skills for work can open up new opportunities. There’s a huge range of courses available. Some are free, and you may qualify for financial help. There’s also plenty of free advice to help you decide what’s right for you.

Getting on at work

Whatever stage you’re at in life, learning new skills could improve your career prospects.

Research predicts that in the future there will be fewer jobs for people lacking skills - meaning that skills are likely to become more and more important as time goes on.

Free help and advice is available whether you’re currently working or not. There are different schemes to suit the needs of different people.

Advice on improving your work skills

Get free careers and skills advice through the Next Step careers and skills service. You can get advice online, over the phone or face-to-face.

  • Next Step: 0800 100 900

Improving your work skills: getting started

There are plenty of options if you want to improve your work skills.

If you’re looking for a job, there are several schemes to help you. Most give you the opportunity to learn while you’re doing so. See the section below on ‘Schemes to help you find work’ for more details.

If you are working, you may be able to get training through your employer. See the section below on ‘Help if you’re already in work’ for details.

Search for training online

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you arranging training for yourself. See the 'What to learn, where to learn' and 'Your skills, your future’ sections for tips on choosing a course and finding the right place to learn, information on qualifications and advice if you’re returning to learning after a break.

You may be able to get financial help while doing a course: see 'Help with learning costs: an introduction' for details.

Higher education and your career

If you want to develop your skills for work further, a higher education qualification could be the answer. There’s a huge range of courses to choose from, including vocational courses aimed at people who want to get on in a particular line of work.

Improving your English, maths and IT

For many people, brushing up on essential skills is the first and most important step in opening up new career options.

Schemes to help you find work

If you don’t have a job, there are several national schemes to help you find work or get work experience.

New Deal and other Jobcentre Plus programmes

New Deal helps people get into work. An adviser will ask about your experiences, interests and goals and help you prepare a plan.

Participating may mean that you get an allowance on top of your benefits. You could get your course fees paid, and you may qualify for help with the cost of books, travel, equipment or childcare.

Other schemes to help you find work include:

  • Work Trial
  • Employment on Trial
  • Pathways to Work


An Apprenticeship lets you learn on the job, gaining a qualification while you’re earning. Apprenticeships are available in many different areas, from business administration to engineering, beauty therapy or health and social care.

If you have a disability

If you have a disability, there are additional schemes to help you find work.

Getting training if you're already in work

If you’re looking to gain new skills relevant to the world of work - and you’ve already got a job - talking to your employer is often a good first step.

Find out more about some of the training opportunities that may be available through your employer in ‘Getting training at work’.

Was this information useful?

Thinking about what you have just read, how useful did you find the information?
Thinking about what you have just read, how useful did you find the information?
500 character limit

Why are we asking for this information?

  • we want to hear what you think about the quality and usefulness of our pages
  • your comments will help us improve our pages
  • your comments will also help with the future development of Directgov
  • telling us what you think will help make sure we give you the very best service

Additional links

Get careers and skills advice

Get careers advice online or speak with a Next Step adviser by calling 0800 100 900

Access keys