How further education could help you achieve your career dreams

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Take the plunge and go back to school to pursue bigger and better opportunities...

Further Education and career opportunities

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Sometimes it's hard to see how to push your career to the next level – perhaps you feel a lack of confidence to put yourself forward for that promotion, or don't feel you are qualified for a task that would put you in line for a pay rise?

Fortunately, there are ways in which you can equip yourself with new skills that can lead to increased confidence, a higher salary and even give you the push you need to bag that new job or promotion.

Taking a course or gaining a qualification through further education (FE) can boost your career prospects and make you stand out from the crowd. A recent report put together by the further education (FE) sector discovered that half of decision makers within small to medium sized businesses have qualifications gained through further education.

Separate research found that 22% of those already working when they started a course saw an increase in salary on completion of their learning.

Kemia Downer, a mum of two from Croydon, was working for the Home Office when she started her first course at Lewisham College to pursue her passion for art.

Kemia told us, "After I had my second child I decided I needed to do something I always wanted to do – Art & Design. I've been interested in art since I was a child: painting, drawing, sculpture, you name it. I started a course leading to a qualification in Art and progressed to the Foundation level. After I finished the course I went to the University of East London. I'm in my third year now and I'm going to go on to do my PGCE so I can train as a teacher. In the future I'll be teaching art in college and studying for my Masters and my Ph.D."

Taking the plunge with further education – how to get involved

• Do your research and consider what you want to achieve from your qualification. You may want to develop your skills, or gain a professionally recognised qualification. Check that the course gives you the skills you want to achieve, and is recognised in the industry you work or want to work in. The National Careers Service Course Finder is a great place to start.

• There are a huge range of further education qualifications available, but there is help is available to guide you. Speak to a National Careers Service adviser on 0800 100 900 or visit the National Careers Service website or contact your local college for information and advice.

• If the qualification is arranged through your employer, or directly benefits your work, then your employer may contribute or even pay for it. Many employers will welcome you being proactive in developing your skills and willing to support you, especially if it will bring a business benefit to them.

• Check your eligibility for the new 24+ Advanced Learning Loan for those taking courses at Level 4 and above and are aged 24 and over. It means you don't have to start repaying the loan until your income exceeds £21,000 per annum.

• Or look into Professional and Career Development Loans, these are bank loans to pay for courses and training that help with your career or help get you into work. You may be able to borrow between £300 and £10,000. Loans are usually offered at a reduced interest rate and the government pays interest while you're studying.

Find out more by visiting the National Careers Service website or whichwaynow or contacting your local college for information and advice.

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