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2nd Nov 2012

Helping You Shape Your Career Path

Angela Rooney

Careers guidance isn’t just for school leavers as Angela Rooney, careers manager at the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Resource Centre in Belfast, explains

Careers advice is valuable at all stages of your life. Thinking of changing career, but not sure what qualifications you'll need?

The Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service can help you with information, advice and guidance on learning and training opportunities. Or could you do with a bit of help to boost your confidence and motivation levels before going back to learning?

Whatever you need help with, you can get impartial advice from one of the Careers Service's expert advisers who can help you identify and analyse your skills, explore learning and training opportunities and help you set your career goals.

The Careers Service provides careers information, advice and guidance to clients of all ages, whether employed or unemployed. When you are doing a course, in work, or volunteering, you are increasing your skills and your confidence. The more skills you have, the better your chances of finding the right job and getting more out of life because you are continuing to learn.

A qualification is proof that you have knowledge or a skill in a certain area. Qualifications aren’t the only way to show your skills: work experience or volunteering are other ways of showing what you can do.

However, qualifications are a good way to let an employer see what skills and knowledge you have. Don’t worry if you haven’t studied for a while. Many people return to learning after a break, and really enjoy the experience. You can study in a variety of different ways now, including at home.

You may have left school without any qualifications and have worries about your maths and English. You might think your IT skills need some updating. Getting more confident about the basics is a great way to start improving your skills.

Essential Skills training in these areas is free and available throughout all six colleges in Northern Ireland. Essential skills enrich the lives of individual learners and also provide learners with an edge in what is an increasingly competitive job market. For more information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/knowhow

Further education colleges offer a range of academic, vocational and leisure courses to suit a variety of needs. You may have the option to attend full or part time as well as day or evening classes, depending on the course you choose.

Most academic and vocational courses begin in September, but short-term and part-time courses may commence at different times of the year. You can apply online or by post. If you want to know where your nearest FE College is and what you can study visit www.collegesni.co.uk

Further education awards may be available to students who are required to pay fees and need assistance with this. You can obtain an application pack from your college.

The Western Education and Library Board (WELB) is responsible for the administration of further education awards on behalf of the five education and library boards. Its website contains information relating specifically to these awards - www.welbni.org

Most further education colleges provide a hardship fund for students experiencing significant financial difficulties. Conditions apply so you should contact your college directly for advice.

Your choice of career might be a key factor in deciding whether to go into higher education and what course to take. Look at the different options available, and focus on what you think is best for your future.

Universities and colleges offer both academic and work-related courses. Depending on the subject and the type of job you're interested in, you can gain one of many types of qualifications - higher education is not just about getting a degree.

High quality careers advice is equally valuable to everyone, including those in work, who are considering further education, training or a change in career direction. In order to help people of all ages achieve their potential the Careers Service is working to ensure that professional careers services are accessible.

If you need further information on learning and training opportunities, please go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers where you will find the contact details for your nearest Careers Office and careers adviser. This site also carries extensive information on career planning. You can also contact the Careers Service by phone on 0300 200 7820.

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