Text size: larger | smaller | reset

supporting welfare to work providers

Skills and Continuous Professional Development

Section image for Adviser / training skills - 3d abstract blocks

As a professional, you have a responsibility to engage in continuous professional development, often referred to as CPD. This means taking action to keep your skills and knowledge up to date and seeking to improve your capabilities across the range of tasks you carry out. See Useful links for more information.

It is likely that your job role covers a broad range of skills and you may have to follow more than one path of study or work to acquire all the skills you need. As a result, it may be useful to isolate key skills and knowledge areas into different categories. These are some that might be relevant:

Whilst there are a range of qualifications relating to training and advice that you may need or want to undertake you should also take advantage of the wide variety of other ways to extend your skill and knowledge base.

Use this checklist to identify some of the different ways you could expand your knowledge and skills:

Checklist to identify ways of expanding knowledge and skills

  • Gaining further qualifications in your subject or industrial expertise through an accredited course
  • Peer review or coaching (coaching others and being coached in your subject or vocational area)
  • Becoming a subject learning coach or advanced learning coach training
  • Work shadowing
  • Leading team / department self-assessment
  • Carrying out and disseminating action research (reflective process on how to improve the way in which teams address issues and solve problems in the practice of their profession)
  • Designing innovative feedback mechanisms (learners and peers)
  • Being an active member of a committee or steering group related to your subject area
  • Peer visits to community organisations / partners
  • Reading and reviewing books or journal articles
  • Updating knowledge through the internet / TV / other media and reviewing these with a group of colleagues
  • Updating knowledge through visits, placements, secondments or shadowing
  • Attending external briefings and disseminate to colleagues
  • Writing reports / papers to inform your colleagues
  • Networking with other subject specialists
  • Planning or running a staff development activity or event.

This case study illustrates how one employment adviser used her skills and training to identify a misunderstood barrier which had led to her customer’s long term unemployment.

Case study 1: adviser / trainer skills (Reed in Partnership)

Lee is in his early 50s. Leaving school at 15, he went straight on the unemployment register and remained there for 37 years.

Lee had always been considered ‘different’ and difficult to engage with socially throughout his teenage years and adult life. He had attempted to find employment but received little or no support. The small amount of support he received was inappropriate and actually worked against him. Year after year, decade after decade, he was passed from one programme to another and referred to every main provider. Over the years he had many confrontations with both the providers and Jobcentre Plus because he felt they insisted he complete programmes which were of no benefit to him. Numeracy and literacy training became a real issue for him as he has several academic qualifications and an evidenced IQ of almost 180.

Lee lived a solitary life in a one bedroom flat with very little social interaction, His day consisting of watching TV and reading a day old newspaper. Estranged from his family and no friends, he lost what few interpersonal skills he had had and many skills failed to develop.

Lee’s life changed dramatically when an employment adviser at Reed In Partnership, who had received mental health awareness training, realised that something was wrong and decided to do something different.

She referred Lee to Real Dawn’s First Step Group Therapy for a full mental health assessment. He settled into the group well and, after assessment, the facilitator, who was trained to observe indicators of mental health problems, suggested that Lee might have a condition known as High Functioning Aspergers and that he would benefit from a full psychiatric assessment to confirm the initial diagnosis.

Although it took over a year for psychiatric assessment to take place, Lee’s previously unrecognised condition was confirmed. This profoundly changed two major areas of his life. First and foremost, Lee now understood his problem and it understood by others too. Secondly, appropriate interventions could now be offered. These factors improved his life dramatically.

After almost 40 years of unbroken unemployment, he is now employed as a proof reader. He is in his first personal relationship, has joined a walking club, enjoys photography. And his interpersonal skills, although influenced by his Aspergers, have improved to such an extent that he now uses public transport and engages people in conversation without prompting.

Overcoming his barriers to employment would not have been possible had Reed in Partnership’s employment adviser not received mental health awareness training. Lee would almost certainly still have been living in his one bedroom flat in isolation.

Many people who had come across Lee in the past had thought him ‘uncooperative and aggressive’ when he was neither. He was frustrated with a system that just wasn’t working for him and of course his barriers were not properly understood.

 The case study below describes the role of longer term support and aftercare to bring about a sustainable result.  The adviser helped a customer suffering from various disabilities find a role that suited not only her needs but her skills and abilities and devised various ways of keeping in touch until she no longer needed his help

Case study 2: adviser / trainer skills (RBLI)

Susan, 53, had been unemployed for 18 months before she was referred to RBLI. She had worked in a bank's head office for 28 years and had become frustrated at not being able to find work. Susan felt that many employers deemed her too set in her ways, although such a steady work history should have counted in her favour. Susan also had a hearing impairment and some problems with her back, including spondylosis and disc protrusions. Susan had been to another provider who had tried to send her to call centre jobs. These were totally unsuitable for her, given the likely levels of background noise and lengthy periods of sitting required.

It soon became clear to Alan, her RBLI adviser, that Susan had a wide variety of high level administrative skills and that she also had an interest in the type of work he was doing. Alan rang round a few other providers in the area to see if they had any vacancies and he found one small charity with a vacant administrative post. Investigating further, Alan found out that the role involved some phone work, but that it would also allow Susan to get up, move around and organise her daily tasks so that she could manage her back pain.

Alan arranged an interview and Susan was offered a work trial the following week. Alan visited Susan regularly during the first few weeks of her work trial and arranged for a job coach to help her organise her working environment to suit her needs. Alan also held regular meetings with Susan's manager to check on her progress and to ensure she was coping with the work load as the previous incumbent had left suddenly. As the work environment was completely different to what Susan had been used to at the bank, she was grateful to be able to lean on Alan's experience and to sound him out about the differences in culture.

Susan passed the work trial early and was offered the job after a week and a half. Alan set up an Access to Work assessment and continued to visit Susan weekly for a short period after she had started the job officially. He then reduced his support to fortnightly and then, as he became confident that Susan was developing strong, trusting relationships with her colleagues and managers, to monthly.

Susan received a significant pay rise in her first six months in recognition of the impact she had made in organising the office (and staff) and co-ordinating an office move.

Susan had shared some personal information with Alan when she had been working with him, such as her son was soon taking his exams, and that she was due to go on holiday in July, etc. Alan used these snippets of information as a means of keeping in touch with her. While retaining a professional relationship, he would diarise dates and then email Susan with questions such as "How's it going with your son's exams?" This approach has become a useful tool for Alan and other advisers at RBLI as a means of keeping in touch with customers without directly asking how they are progressing at work.

Susan has now been trained and promoted into an adviser role at the local provider and both she and her manager are very happy. In the 18 months Susan has been there, she has never taken a day off sick.

Alan's final step was to send Susan a card wishing her good luck in her new role. She commented: "Alan constantly going the extra mile has helped me so much, keeping me going and knowing there's someone out there if I need them"


This site is for help and information only. It is not meant as an authoritative guide. It is not meant as an authoritative statement of the law, and future changes in the law and other programmes and initiatives could make it less accurate at times. TAEN, the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund take no responsibility for your use of the information. You should always take professional advice on any specific legal or financial matter.