How can I retrain for new UK jobs?

How can I retrain for new UK jobs?

If you are one of the thousands of people who have had their job affected this year, then you are probably following employment news quite closely. Rather than dwelling on the future of work in your sector, now could be the time to consider retraining for a career change and looking at some new UK jobs. 

COVID-19 has affected jobs in many different ways. Some people have been on furlough, unable to work. Others have had to adapt to working from home. And still more have found themselves out of work. Whichever group you fall into, being confined to home over the past few months has given you time to rethink your career and consider your options.

Reasons to retrain

Everyone will have their own personal reasons for considering a job change. Perhaps you no longer enjoy the work and need a change of pace. Maybe you see no opportunities for training or career progression  in your sector. There could be a lack of new UK jobs in your industry following COVID-19 or you may be concerned about your future job security as a result of the pandemic. Or is there something you have always wanted to do and now is the perfect time to take on a new challenge?

Even before COVID-19 and the lockdown, employment news indicated that with the increase in technology and automation in the workplace, the future of work was set to change. Recent events have perhaps fast-forwarded things so now, more than ever, is the best time to retrain.  

Retraining does not necessarily mean training for a new job, it could also be up-skilling to improve your knowledge and skills to progress further in your current industry, especially if you work in a sector where automation is set to make a big impact. Warehousing is a prime example of automation becoming almost a necessity now. New skills are therefore needed within the workforce to control and maintain the automated equipment.

What new UK jobs can you retrain for?

When it comes to a career change the world is your oyster. Whether you left school with 5 GCSE’s or gained a University degree, there will be options out there for you to gain further qualifications or to retrain for a wide variety of new job roles. 

Some examples:

  • Skilled Trades – e.g. construction, plumbing etc. Training can be on the job, an apprenticeship or NVQ qualifications.
  • Driving – a Delivery Driver can drive with a car licence or you can retrain to get your LGV licence.
  • Customer Service – on the job training or NVQ qualifications.
  • Teaching – you could consider becoming a Teaching Assistant as a stepping stone to being a Teacher. Training is on the job combined with NVQ qualifications.
  • Carer – this is usually on the job training but First Aid and Health & Social Care qualifications are helpful.
  • IT – the digital sector is growing and IT knowledge is almost essential for the future of work in any job role these days. There are many courses available online as well as formal qualifications through a College or University.  

How and where can you find training courses?

There are many different options now for training courses. You can go the traditional route and visit your local College for relevant classes. Or for some careers you may need to consider a higher level form of study at a University. In the current climate, with social distancing still in place, you may find that online courses or distance learning will be the best route for retraining. 

The Open University is probably the most well-known distance-learning provider in the UK and they have a wide range of courses to choose from across a variety of subject areas. 

Digital skills are now almost a necessity in the modern world and many new UK jobs will require you to have good IT skills and knowledge. Without digital technology, lockdown would have been an entirely different experience. It enabled us to keep in touch with friends and family; schools were able to continue teaching and many people were able to continue in their jobs by working from home. Even before COVID-19, the digital age was well upon us so whether or not you want to retrain for a job in IT, improving your IT knowledge and skills is imperative for the future of work in most industries. 

Below are some free training resources to take a look at:

  • Google Digital Garage - Over 130 free courses designed to help you get started with technology, digital marketing and career development.
  • Microsoft Digital Skills - Something for all ability levels, starting with basic computer literacy courses and increasing to their AI Business School with courses tailored to specific industries. 

Another retraining option to consider is an apprenticeship. If you thought apprenticeships were for school leavers then think again. The modern apprenticeship can be for anyone at any age and any level. This is a great opportunity for on the job training – still earning a wage while retraining and gaining a qualification. 

In 2018, the government set up a national retraining scheme. The aim is to support adults over the age of 24, in low-skilled jobs and educated below degree level to retrain and move into better jobs. This training can include basic Maths and English but also specific vocational and technical skills needed for a career change. The scheme began rolling out in 2019 across 6 regions of England, with the aim to increase coverage across the country in 2020. You can find out more about this on the government website

Some amazing employment news you might want to consider is an opportunity for new UK jobs in the engineering industry. CityFibre aims to create full fibre networks in towns and cities across the UK and are offering not only a job opportunity but a retraining programme which would assist your career change into this new industry. Learn more here

Funding your career change with grants, bursaries or loans

As an adult learner looking to retrain in a specific industry, there is often likely to be a cost involved. There are various grants, bursaries and loans you can apply for which could either be direct from the institution where you do your training or from an outside organisation that offers help to those who qualify. A loan has to be paid back, grants and bursaries do not. 

Turn2Us is a national charity that offers grants for people dealing difficult circumstances. It is a good starting point to see if you might qualify for help with retraining, especially if your job and income have been affected by COVID-19.

City & Guilds have been providing bursaries for students on their courses for the last 20 years. This year they have switched their focus to offer bursaries specifically to individuals wanting to study for a qualification in an industry known to have skills shortages, with the aim of ensuring the future of work for those sectors. Visit the City & Guilds Foundation website to learn more about the bursaries and the sectors they are available for. 

Another option is an Advanced Learner Loan. This is a government loan which can help with the costs of a course or training programme. There are specific eligibility requirements but if you are successful then you can also apply for money from the Loan Bursary Fund to assist with additional expenses such as accommodation, childcare or course materials. 

The government has various other forms of student finance available ranging from childcare grants to NHS bursaries to student loans. has lots more information

5 steps for retraining

  1. Research new career sectors - find out more about your new chosen career and the entry requirements needed.
  2. Look for new UK jobs in this sector to see what kind of jobs are available.
  3. Look for courses and training programmes relevant to your new chosen career.
  4. Take advantage of free online training.
  5. Update your CV to make it relevant for your future of work in your new career. Focus on the skills and experience from your previous jobs and how those can be adapted to your new career choice. Life experience can also be a bonus here. 

You can do anything - don't let lack of experience, knowledge or qualifications stop you. Anything is possible if there is something you really want to do.