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Most people breathe a huge sigh of relief when they step out of the school gates for the last time. “That’s it” they declare. “No more exams for me!”. But most realise quite quickly that they actually miss the learning environment – either for its own sake or to learn specific skills to help them get a job or achieve a personal goal such as passing a driving test.

Learning – despite the occasional memory of triple French on a Friday afternoon – is generally an enjoyable experience and even if you’ve found your perfect job you should never stop. The job itself is going to keep changing as new technologies are brought in, and if you’re going to progress up that career ladder you’re going to need additional skills.

You always need to be thinking about your “next job”. You may think you have just settled into your current one but either by your own choice or by redundancy, there will come a point where you are sitting in an interview for another post. The person interviewing you will want to know what new skills you have acquired during the X years in your last job. And he or she won’t want to hear that you just went to work from 9 to 5 each day without developing either the job or yourself!

So what paths are open to you? First, identify which skills or qualifications you would like to achieve. Be honest about whether this is just because you enjoy the subject as a ‘hobby’ or whether there is a real chance of them offering you career progression or an increased wage.

Find out where courses are on offer locally. Check out the websites of your local colleges – if there isn’t a specific course available, email them as they may be keeping a “wish list” from prospective students. There are a number of other places where you can continue your learning:

* The Workers Educational Association has a proud history of helping adults learn new skills and their online course finder will help you track what’s happening in your area.

* Adult Education courses. These will normally be run by the county council so check the education section of your county council website. Courses range from English & Maths to Arts & Crafts. They are held daytime, evening or weekends so there should be something to suit everyone.

* If you are looking to learn from home, then LocalRecruit has teamed up with the Home Learning College to offer you a wide range of training courses, all leading to professional qualifications. There are more than 50,000 students already enrolled so you’ll be joining a community of home-learners determined to improve their job prospects. Click here to learn more about the book-keeping, IT, web design and dozens of other courses available.

* LearnDirect. This flexible organisation was set up specifically to help people in industry achieve high quality learning. Much of it is e-learning via the internet but there are many learndirect centres throughout Britain with tutors offering personal help to enable you to achieve your desired results. It’s the best of both worlds: learning from home at your own pace and the support of a teacher in the real world.

* Open University. Another organisation offering top-drawer qualifications by combining distance learning with one-to-one tuition. The Open University degree covers topics from the arts and humanities to engineering.

* Private tuition. There are countless private organsiation and companies offering specialist training in every subject imaginable.  A Google search should find them or you can contact the trade body for your particular industry for suggestions.

These are just some of the many options available in the training field. Whichever route you take, you’re going to have to think about how you finance your training. You may do it off your own bat but there may also be funding available from your current employer. Convince them that giving you extra skills will also benefit the company and they will hopefully fund or part-fund your training. Many companies, of course, also run their own training courses for employees.

There are a number of grants available to help adults further their education – particularly for those in financial hardship, needing help with childcare costs or travel costs. Take a look at for an overview but also contact your training provider direct. Even private colleges often have bursaries or ways to help the less well-off.

 Finally, keep a good record of all your training and which specific skills you have learned en route. This will help beef up your CV and ease you up that career ladder – or into the top job with a rival company!