Further Education Funding


If you are thinking of gaining some further education qualifications it might not be as expensive as you think. You can ask your local college or training provider what help is available, as you may be eligible for different types of assistance. These are some of the schemes that are available.

Many colleges and training providers offer their own schemes so they may differ slightly, but they follow the Governments guidelines.

Advanced Learner Loans

Advanced learner loans are available for individuals aged 19 or above to undertake approved qualifications at Levels 3 to Level 6, at an approved provider in England. Check with your provider and they will be able to provide you with a learning and funding information letter, which will give you the essential information needed to apply.

Advanced Learner Loans Bursary

Apply to your college or training provider – each one has its own application process. How much you get depends on the provider’s scheme and your circumstances. You may receive help for travel or equipment.


If you have childcare responsibilities and no one can help whilst you attend your course, then depending on your circumstances you may be able to receive childcare assistance.

Generally there are two schemes. If you are 20 years or over you may be eligible or if 19 you could apply to Care to Learn.

College – Discretionary Learner Support Funds

If you are studying a level 1 or 2 course, and depending on your financial situation and how far you travel, your provider may have discretionary funds that you can apply for. They are usually for travel support but sometimes can be used for equipment.

-Mike, Careers Adviser




Thinking about volunteering? There are many reasons to become a volunteer, whether you are a job seeker looking to gain valuable experience, skills and build networks, or you simply wanting to give back to your community; volunteering could be your opportunity to involve yourself in something that is challenging, motivating and rewarding. If you have ever been interested in volunteering, today’s Career Line blog will give you an insight into some of the benefits of volunteering, what to consider before becoming a volunteer, useful resources for further information and links for finding volunteering opportunities in your local area.

The benefits of volunteering

  • Gaining new skills

When you begin volunteering you gain many valuable skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, planning and organising and using initiative. If you decide to volunteer in something that is specific to the career you aspire to, you could be gaining useful skills and knowledge about company systems and policies. For example, you could volunteer for a children’s youth center and gain a firsthand insight into the safeguarding policy. Those experiences can be mentioned when applying for jobs and is something that you can talk about in interviews.

  • Networking

Volunteering can be a fantastic way of building relationships with employees in the sector that you want to move into. By specifically volunteering for companies that you would like to work in, you have an insight into vital information such as how the company works, what the employer is looking for in a candidate and potential job openings. If you make a good impression, the company you are volunteering for could supply you with a great reference, or even better, they may even think of you for a paid position in their company.

  • Understanding your career goals

If you are deciding what course to do at university or college, contemplating a career change, or have always wanted to see if you excel in a certain sector, volunteering can help give you clarification before making any major decisions. If you decide you love the experience, you can feel confident knowing that the decision you are making has been informed and based on actual work experience. If you didn’t enjoy your time volunteering in that sector, you can happily move on knowing you made the right decision not to pursue it.

  • Improve your CV and interview technique

For a person who feels that their CV is looking slightly bare and is struggling to find paid employment, volunteering could be a great way of showing employers your experience and employment potential. Finally, many volunteering opportunities require an interview, so if you have not had experience of this or you are looking to work on your interview technique before applying for paid employment this can give you the experience and confidence you need.

Things to consider before volunteering

  • What are my interests
  • How much time am I willing to commit to volunteering?
  • What do I hope to gain from volunteering?
  • How would this help my career?
  • What skill set can I offer an organization?

If you are considering volunteering, see below for some useful websites for further information, advice and volunteering opportunities.





-Rachel, Careers Adviser

Ill Health Disclosure

As a careers advisor one question I am frequently asked is how to explain gaps in employment. For people with mental health problems this can be challenging. Some people have concerns as to whether disclosing their health will impact their job prospects. Others would prefer to keep details of their health private, but worry about the legalities of not disclosing.

So what are the legalities?

The Equality Act (2010) protects disabled people from discrimination in the recruitment process. The Act makes it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants questions about disability or health before making a job offer, except in specified circumstances. This aims to prevent employers screening potential employees to avoid recruiting disabled people.

Once a job offer is in place you are only required to disclose your health if your employer asks; if you are not asked you do not have to disclose (The Employment Rights Act, 2002)

Should you disclose your health?

Disclosing your health is a personal choice.


  • The employer may view you as being more honest because you have explained your situation.
  • It may explain some of the gaps in your CV or application.
  • You will not need to worry that the employer may find out at a later date, leading to disciplinary action or dismissal (or at least loss of trust)
  • You will not have to worry that someone else might tell the employer about your situation.
  • You will be able to attend medical appointments openly
  • Your employer and colleagues may be able to offer you support


  • The employer may have concerns about your ability to do the job
  • You may find it difficult to tell the employer about your situation
  • You may be worried that your employer may not respect your confidentiality

How would you disclose?

  1. Be brief – concentrate on showcasing your skills, experience, qualifications and personal qualities
  2. Be positive – what strengths do you have as a result of experiencing and/or recovering from mental ill health? Good self-reflection skills? Resilience? Empathy for others?
  3. Finish on a high – during any periods out of work what achievements/experiences have you had? Volunteering? Training? Travel? Research and reading? Self-reflection?


When could you disclose?

On a Job Application Form

On a Job Application, in answer to the question “Do you have any health problems?”

Possible responses:

  • Not that would affect my ability to do the job
  • I will discuss this at an interview
  • Not applicable to this job
  • I previously had ________which I have now recovered from and I do not feel that this will affect my work performance
  • I have a health condition but I feel I will still be able to do the job as required
  • Leave it blank and explain verbally in a job interview if required
  • Do not say ‘no’ if the answer is ‘yes’

At an interview or after the job has been offered

Choose an appropriate time to talk when you feel comfortable. The emphasis should be on your skills, motivation and commitment to do the job.

You can prepare a disclosure statement in advance. You can use this at any stage, you choose, during the application process and after the job has been offered.

Here are some examples of disclosure statements:

I have been out of work for health reasons. During this time I have focused on my recovery, studying, volunteering. I am now ready to work.


I have experienced anxiety, which has given me a better understanding of myself, and more empathy for others who may experience similar situations.


I recently took some time out of work due to ill health. I am now well and have learned how to manage stress and ways of coping.


If you would like to speak to a Careers Adviser about your disclosure statement, or would like any other advice around your career goals, you can call us on 0800 100 900.

-Lauren, Careers Adviser

Searching for Jobs


Job searching… what is the first thing that comes to mind when I say it?! Frustrating, disheartening, confusing? All of the above? I know, I have been there myself. Whether you are looking for a career change, a quick fix or keeping up to date with the industry, hopefully my top tips will calm your nerves and help you make the most of what tools are at your disposal.

We all know that employers spruce up job titles to make them sound more appealing, but sometimes from the onset we have no idea what the job involves. If we don’t look further into the role we might be missing out on our dream job.

When you’re job searching, if you use the ‘keyword’ tab rather than the ‘job title’ tab, this will scan the job description and will look for your keywords. So for example, if you’re looking for something sports related by typing in the word ‘sport’ it will bring up jobs that are associated with it, so it could be things like facilities manager etc.

Knowing who your local employers are, that offer you the opportunities that you are seeking, will also be key to your job searching success. Most companies that you come across will have a section on their website where you will be able to gain information on any current recruitment. Find out who the top employers are who could potentially recruit in your industry and 1) search on their websites, 2) like them on social media and 3) connect with them on LinkedIn. By doing this you will be constantly keeping yourself in the know!

If you, or anyone you know, would like extra support around job searching please call us today on 0800 100 900.

-Kate, Careers Adviser

Happy Birthday!


Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday dear Career Line, Happy Birthday to us!

Hip Hip Hooray we are two today!

Wow two years old!  We have had the most amazing two years.  As an adviser I can’t quite believe it’s been two years already.  Here is a quick reminder of what we are about:


Careers advice; impartial advice and guidance by a qualified careers adviser.

Ambition; all of the Career Line team enjoy their role. We strive to help customers reach their goal.

Real; we understand as we live in the real world and will help you identity your real opportunities.

Encouragement; it can be scary making a change. We are here to encourage and support you all the way.

Empowerment; giving you the information for you to make a decision about your future.

Ready; our telephone lines are open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday with live careers advisers ready to take your call.


Local; we offer advice and guidance relevant to your local area.

Impartial; we are not linked with employers, colleges or training providers.

No charge; that’s right – FREE advice and guidance.

Easy; with a number of ways to contact us.  You can get advice and guidance over the telephone or face to face.  You can contact us via email, telephone or social media.

-Claire, Careers Adviser

It’s never too late to upskill!


Computers! Today they are a part of everyday life, in fact my children, like most, are whizz kids on them.

Having completed typing and word processing qualifications at school and college I managed to get on ok with computers in my day to day job without too many problems. I was a proficient typist and could accurately input data and send emails. However, during team meetings when it came to who would set up a new spreadsheet or prepare a PowerPoint presentation I would slide down my chair and let other team members take the lead! I guess, for me, there was an element of fear around the words “Excel” and “PowerPoint”. I was too scared I would get it wrong…

The answer was simple really. I should get myself an IT qualification but I always had a list of excuses: I was too old to start a new qualification and where would I find the time? However, on the positive side, it would give me so much satisfaction to take the lead on the next presentation or design the next spreadsheet. I made the decision to go for it.

I started by googling the range of qualifications on offer and after speaking with a Training Adviser I decided to complete an NVQ Level 2 in IT. This would be done alongside my job role and therefore benefit me the most.  I could select the units that met my needs and would be able to apply them in my everyday work.

The qualification involved project work and exams and, although sitting exams again after so many years was a scary prospect, I actually enjoyed the revision and preparation and knew that it was all going to help me in my job.  I would also be completing Key Skills in Maths, English and IT so I was able to refresh myself on these subjects as well.

I successfully completed the qualification and felt a huge sense of achievement.  I continued to build on my skills not only at work, but in my personal life as well.  Yes I am now one of those people who have a ‘monthly finances’ spreadsheet on my home laptop.

So there you have it, if I can do it then so can you, stop those excuses and go for it!!!

-Jill, Business Support Co-Ordinator

Hello from Career Line!


Welcome to the brand new Career Line blog! First, a little bit of information about who we are & what we do.

Career Line is the telephone advisory team for the National Careers Service. We offer free, impartial advice and guidance to adults aged 19 and over, who reside in England.

Our qualified Careers Advisers offer a wide range of help, which include:

  • Advice on a career path
  • Looking for a college course and potential funding
  • Looking at your transferable skills if you’re wanting a career change
  • Reviewing and updating your CV

For confidential advice tailored to your specific needs, please contact us today on 0800 100 900.

We also have a number of digital channels you can interact with us on, these are listed below:

North East Region




South Central Region




Over the next three months, this blog will aim to cover different topics relating to careers advice, which we hope will help you on your journey. Beginning on 16th September, our first topic will cover upskilling. It’s never too late!

If there are any topics you would like us to cover, please leave us a comment. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to interacting with you!

-Sophie, Business Support Co-Ordinator