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supporting welfare to work providers

Training: the basics

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Training can help people aged over 50 get back to work, by improving their skills and qualifications, and by raising their self confidence. It is especially helpful when linked to work experience, so that they can try out what they are learning and demonstrate it to a real employer (who may employ them or provide a reference).

How important is training in getting 50+ unemployed people back to work?

Getting back into work after 50 is difficult for everyone who is unemployed, whether they have been in a highly qualified professional job or a low-skilled one.

Many (but certainly not all) 50+ unemployed people have low skills, low qualifications, or low self confidence. Training can help, but it is most effective if it is linked to work experience or organised in conjunction with an employer (or a group of employers) in a sector where there are skill shortages.

People who have done no formal learning for many years may have unhappy memories of school and be nervous about returning to anything like the classroom they escaped from at 15 or 16. Often the easiest way of helping them to cross the threshold is through courses in something they are interested in or know about: a hobby, rather than a job. Sometimes such courses include elements of basic skills (e.g. courses in fishing which include literacy teaching based around fish and fishing).

Every customer is different, but many will need encouragement to start, and support while they are doing the training. These are the ways you can help:

How you can help your customers with training

  • Explaining why training matters, what it can and cannot do
  • Helping your customer to reflect on his or her aspirations for work and identify what kind of training might help
  • Helping your customer to set realistic objectives: training and qualifications will not transform opportunities overnight
  • Helping to find appropriate training, at the right time and place
  • Providing ongoing personal support during the training, to talk through difficulties and reflect on how the training relates to their future
  • Encouraging your customers to work together to support each other (talking to someone in similar circumstances about learning problems can be easier than talking to a trainer or an adviser)

What kinds of training are most helpful?

These are some of the most helpful:

  • Training which helps to develop self confidence, including confidence with basic skills
  • Training which broadens horizons, encouraging people to widen their job searching, perhaps to jobs they have never considered before
  • Training which provides the basic entry requirements for jobs, without which employers will not consider applicants at all (eg health and safety, food hygiene, HGV driving licence)
  • Training linked to real jobs through work experience

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.