Tag: careers

Knowledge through further education
Many of us consider going back to education later in life, but it can seem a daunting prospect. There are many benefits to further education such as learning new skills or trades which could improve your career options. But you may ask, is it right for you? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. There has been a 14%* rise in vocational learning over the past year and nearly 30% of all university applicants last year were over 21**.

This week I spent some time with one of our tradesmen, Stephen Courtney, who has decided to take the plunge and head back to university.

Tell us about your background
I worked at the Home Office for 15 years. I started out as a labourer, worked my way up to foreman until I was eventually managing projects up to £1/2 million in value. I thought I’d be there for life and then all of a sudden they shut a lot of the buildings and I was made redundant.

Why did you choose to go back and study?
I was trying to find a project management job, but I couldn’t get anything because I didn’t have the relevant qualifications. I chose to go back into education so I could get back into project management of some sort.

How are you funding your course?
I’m taking an accountancy course, so to help me through I applied for a student loan. I’ll get my tuition and living allowance paid for and will be required to pay it back once I start earning a certain amount.

And what about the future?
I’m open-minded about what path I’m going to take. I’m not looking to become an accountant; it’s project management I’m looking at long term. The degree begins by covering a wide range of topics then later on you decide what to specialise in.

How are you going to balance your work with your studies?
It’s going to be difficult, but I chose a university local to me, which is also where a lot of my customers are. Study times are varied; I might have a day off in the week or start at midday so I should be able to fit some work in.

What effect do you think this will have on your career?
Hopefully massive. A good mix of experience and qualifications is vital. There’s not a lot I don’t know about building, but it’s difficult to get them to agree to give you the work without the right piece of paper. I have qualifications, but the work is so competitive that it’s always great to get another qualification – it adds another string to the bow really.

View Stephen Courtney’s MyBuilder profile 

If you are interested in getting back into education follow the links below for more information.

City & Guilds Vocational Qualifications
UCAS Mature Students Advice
Student Loans Company

Sources: *City &Guilds **UCAS


This guest post was written by Jade O’Donoghue, who is web and social media editor at Hotcourses, where you can search for courses by subject, location, or just have a browse of what’s available.

You’re qualified in your trade, you’ve got all the certificates, you’ve been doing it for some time now and you know you do a good job; but have you ever thought about taking another course? We’re not suggesting you go back to school, just that doing something extra to add to your trade skills set can be really beneficial when it comes to giving your services an edge in a competitive market.

On trend
Sometimes it’s good to take a course in order to ensure you can cater for new trends coming up. For example, there are plenty of air conditioning courses out there. What used to be a luxury reserved for executive offices and up-market shopping centres has become something more and more people are considering for the home and they’re looking for builders with the skills to install it. Or perhaps you’ve noticed an increase in the number of solar panels popping up on roofs across the country? They’ve turned into a must-have for the environmentally friendly home owner, so being trained to fit them can be lucrative.

Business brain
If you’re self employed, your job isn’t just offering a trade – you’re running a business too. Brush up on your knowledge of what that entails on a business course and learn more about how to make your enterprise really efficient, or go for marketing classes to help get your name out there. Though going back to basics might seem like a daunting prospect after many years on the job, it will pay off when your business is going from strength to strength.

Something extra
In these tough economic times, customers are often looking for that little additional service to make the price they’re paying is really worthwhile. Why not take a short course that will add something to the service you’re offering? If you’re a kitchen fitter by trade, why not try a kitchen design course to add a bit of creativity into your work and allow you to give the client some ideas? Or, if painting and decorating is where your expertise lies, go for an interior design course so you can understand how colours mix and give advice on redecorating a room. These little extras will cost a little to learn, but could earn you more money in the long run.

Adding to your skills
Often, when you’ve been doing something for a while, it’s easy to get stuck in your ways. This is when taking a refresher course can be beneficial. There are plenty out there, from courses that run through the updates to building regulations and new laws, to ones that will teach you different ways of doing things and how to use state-of-the-art tools to help. You could even train in another trade, perhaps as an avenue into a new career or just to compliment what you already know. There are plenty of building maintenance and construction courses out there and though you might think you know it all already, there’s always someone willing to show you otherwise!

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.