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Back to work grants courses and advice for jobseekers

Entering the job market – or re-entering it after a long while – can feel daunting. Industries and businesses change at pace, meaning it is easy to find yourself without the right skills or qualifications for certain roles.

Fortunately, there are various ways to upskill yourself and get the experience or financial support you need to succeed in jobs you may be interested in. A number of industries continually require new staff, particularly those with driving jobs, roles in warehouses or offices, and catering staff. By building the skills needed for these roles, you will not only be more attractive to employers, but you will also be properly prepared to succeed in the role and enjoy it for a longer time.

If the thought of gaining new skills, experience or training sounds overwhelming to you, then look no further. In this article, we take you through the financial and practical support available to help you gain the skills and confidence you need to succeed.

Will starting work affect your benefits?

If you’re currently on any government benefits, you’re not guaranteed to lose these when you start working. It depends on how much you earn and your own personal situation. If you start out by doing some volunteer work or work experience, you may still be able to claim benefits. Your Jobcentre Plus work coach can help you manage changes to your benefits as you navigate your new situation.

There is also some additional government funding to help you find employment. The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) helps you prepare for interviews and starting work, covering things like travel costs and the clothing you might need to start your job. It can also pay for childcare for your first month in employment. You are eligible for the FSF if you are claiming certain benefits, but it is up to the Jobcentre Plus advisers to decide whether you can have access to it based on your situation.

Can you apply for a job grant?

Job grants can also help you manage financially when you start your new job. They are one-off, tax-free sums designed to cover the gap between your benefits ending and your first pay. They can also help you adjust to your role, such as paying for workwear you may need to buy. You are eligible for a job grant if you have been on certain benefits for at least 26 weeks. Your new job contract also needs to be at least 16 hours a week – or you could be increasing your hours at your current job. As job grants are discretionary payments, Jobcentre Plus will ultimately decide if you are eligible.

Job support for people with disabilities or long-term health conditions

If you have a disability or long-term health condition, the Access to Work programme can help you overcome any obstacles you may experience to enter the workplace. You may be eligible for the Access to Work grant, which can cover the costs of additional support you need to find a job or stay in work. This could pay for things like transport to the place of interview or work, lip speakers, an interpreter and/or note taker for meetings, equipment and aids you may need in the workplace, and advice for your employer. Access to Work also provides practical support based on your unique needs. You might be given a plan to help you adjust to life in work, including flexible work patterns, a phased entry to the workplace, mentoring, additional training, extra time on tasks or ongoing support from an adviser. 

Charities that help jobseekers

A number of charities offer more targeted support to help different members of the community access help in finding jobs and a meaningful career. Below are some example charities offering this kind of support.

  • The Prince’s Trust – aimed at helping young people (aged 16-30) build confidence and explore career avenues. It offers free courses, mentoring and access to work experience.
  • Royal British Legion – offers support for serving personnel and veterans to find suitable jobs.
  • The Salvation Army – Employment Plus (E+) Local provides practical guidance in local centres and can give you access to computers to help with job applications.
  • Papworth Trust – supports people with disabilities into work through advice, work experience and training opportunities.

Your next steps

Whether you have been unemployed for some time or you are completely new to the world of work, entering the job market can feel intimidating. The support schemes and charities mentioned above can help give you focus and confidence from the minute you find and apply to jobs to your first day in the role. For more advice on what to do next in your job search, visit our career advice page, or to start exploring opportunities available now, search our current jobs.