Why lifelong learning matters

Coaching expert Emma Louise O’Brien outlines why boosting your qualifications might help you get ahead in the jobs market or move sector and how you can find courses and resources that suit you.

Online Training


In the current climate, more job seekers are exploring a change in direction. If you are considering a career change or just want to improve on your current skill set, returning to education or training can be a great way to move forward and help you prepare for your next career move.

Why take further training?

Whether you are doing a course, studying for a qualification, in work or volunteering, you are increasing your skills and therefore your confidence. The more relevant skills you have, the better your chances of finding the right job and getting more out of your career. While you can gain skills and knowledge without undertaking further training or qualifications, a qualification is proof to an employer that you have this knowledge or skill to a certain standard. Competition for jobs is tough so getting qualifications can make you more attractive to an employer.

When you are spending money to continue education or training, it is essential that the end result is worth the time and expense.

Finding courses

–  The best way to identify the most relevant training or qualification is to look at the type of role you want to do in your chosen career and research what qualifications employers look for in this field.
– You could look at job advertisements of similar roles and note the qualifications that are being requested.
– Look at LinkedIn profiles or speak to people that do that particular role – noting the qualifications and training that they have undertaken.

Choosing the course

– Academic or Vocational – Do you want to take a theoretical academic course or a vocational course? Think about what you want to get out of the course. As vocational courses are more practical and specific, these may have a more immediate effect on your job prospects.
– Valued by Employers – Check the qualifications or training you are looking at is recognised by employers in your sector. There may be a number of qualifications available in a sector, but one may have more credit with employers than another. Ask employers who actively recruit for people in this field which qualifications they value the most.
– Training provider – There are hundreds of training providers, but not all of them will be accredited by a governing professional body. A lot of private organisations may be offering training that isn’t a recognised qualification. Ensure that the provider you are looking at is registered with the relevant professional body.
– Recommended by others – Research feedback from other students or from people you know have undertaken similar or the same qualifications in the past.

How to study

Once you have identified the most appropriate qualification your next step is to choose a learning provider that will deliver the course in a suitable way for your requirements, learning style and situation. Adult education can offer a variety of options allowing you to select a method of learning that suits your personal situation.

Distance-based learning

During the pandemic we have seen the switch from classroom to virtual learning. This is also ideal if you have a busy life and prefer to study at home at a time that suits you best. The benefits of distance-based learning are:
– Learning styles can vary – For example, some people find it easier to absorb information from books or the internet rather than a teacher.
– You can progress at your own pace –You do not have to learn at the same pace as a classroom full of people. If you want to spend longer studying a particular area or subject, you can.
– Flexibility – You can fit your learning around other areas of your life such as family and work. There is no need to attend classes at a set time each week. You are also not necessarily tied to the start of the academic year and are able to take a break at any time and resume your studies without falling behind.

Finally, one important consideration is the financial costs, not just the tuition fees of the course itself but other associated costs such as course materials. Always check the associated financial costs before registering for a course. There are funding and grants available that may be able to assist you with this.

Don’t forget to look at what free courses and qualifications are available too:
LinkedIn Learning
All have free courses and often qualifications too!

*Emma Louise O’Brien is Head of Career Coaching at outplacement specialists Renovo.

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