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Employment

Here’s where to find career advice whatever your situation

Whether you’re a student looking for your first job, a veteran, have a criminal record or are looking to retrain in a new sector, here’s where to find the right career advice for your situation.

These are the charities and organisations offering specialist career advice, free training and work experience that could make all the difference to your situation.  

Career advice for those who want a change in direction 

It’s never too late to retrain and choose a new job that you find fulfilling or that could help you to become more financially stable.

A job for life is no longer the norm, believes Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive of City and Guilds Group. She says: “We know from our research that many people are worried about starting again and lack the knowledge of other industries needed to switch careers.”

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To this end, City and Guilds has launched Skills Bridges, courses that, using employer insight, help people “unlock the potential of their transferable skills”. These highlight what your strengths are and how they could apply to a new industry, and help you get a foot in the door in an area you might not have considered before.

Its “Step into” courses, for example, are focused on areas where City and Guilds know there is real opportunity to find work, including social care, construction, and digital technologies. You can search the courses at FutureLearn.com, the social learning platform.

Career advice for young people

“As youth employment specialists the work we do has never been more important,” says Lauren Mistry, operations director of social enterprise Youth Employment UK.

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Since the start of the first lockdown Youth Employment UK has offered free online courses for those aged 14 to 24, on everything from how to plan the career you want, to developing leadership, teamwork and creativity, offering certificates of achievement that can be added to your CV

This includes a new, free virtual work experience programme, flagging placements that you can complete online at businesses such as Spotify.

Youth Employment UK also offers careers education resources for schools and youth services, and a careers hub with advice on going into a whole host of sectors.

Career advice for veterans 

The Factory has employment consultants across the UK which give one-to-one support, over the phone, email or via video-calls to help veterans research and apply for jobs in their region. They then give ongoing support once the veteran has started a job. 

There are employment opportunities opening up for veterans, believes Deirdre Mills, chief executive of The Poppy Factory. She says: “When Covid-19 started, we quickly adapted our employment support service. We have been able to support hundreds of ex-Forces men and women into work over the last 12 months.”

Norris, 34, who was injured in Afghanistan by a rocket-propelled grenade, received help to build up his CV, making it clear what skills he had. He has since found work throughout the pandemic with telecommunications firm Ociusnet, improving digital connections in the West Midlands.

Other veterans have found work during Covid-19 with the ambulance service.

Veterans with physical or mental health conditions who would like employment support can register at poppyfactory.org/employment

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Career advice for people with a criminal record

Almost 12 million people in the UK have a criminal record, according to charity Unlock. That means that while offenders are in the minority, a criminal record is far from uncommon. 

Having a conviction does not automatically prevent you from getting a job, or a good job either, but the laws and practices around employment and criminal records check can be very confusing. 

We break down how and when to tell a potential employer about any past convictions, whether you need to tell them at all, and the difference between spent and unspent convictions. Here’s how to get a job with a criminal record

Working Chance offers help and advice to women with convictions to develop the confidence, skills and self-belief needed to find jobs and build careers. It also works with employers including Pret A Manger and Redemption Roasters to help ex offenders who identify as female find work placements that can lead to long term employment. You can contact them here

Unlock offers comprehensive information and support for all people with criminal convictions. The charity runs a helpline, open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, on 01634 247350.

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Training and advice for those in hospitality

Hospitality recruitment is moving at pace now that bars, restaurants, hotels and pubs are reopening. Charity Spingboard supports the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries and those seeking employment within them. It offers free training on soft-skills and employability, hospitality related certified e-learning and guaranteed interviews with hospitality employers actively recruiting.

Springboard’s digital hospitality academy, for example, has free courses, some supported by partners such as Diageo, the drinks company. There’s a bartending course, with 20 modules for you to do at home on making cocktails, front of house customer service, and the opportunity to have your CV reviewed by the team at Diageo.

Career advice for moving into a green job 

“Green jobs” have been touted as the solution to all manner of our current crises, from the climate emergency to youth unemployment and the economic fallout of coronavirus. 

The government has repeatedly pledged to invest in green jobs, promising that the UK will host two million of them by 2030 as part of its mission to “build back greener” in the wake of the pandemic

Currently there’s no uniform definition of a green job, but in broad terms a job is “green” if it improves outcomes for the climate and environment. 

When people think of green jobs, most envision technical jobs in sectors like renewable energy – but a job can be green even if it sits within a sector that isn’t sustainable on the whole.

Green New Deal UK’s free tool is useful to find out how many green jobs are in your area and how many could be created in the future through government investment.

Some job sites like Indeed, Reed and Monster will also respond to searches for “green jobs”, while there are some job sites – including “green jobs” – which focus exclusively on eco-friendly roles.

Groundwork is a federation of charities focused on practical community action on poverty and the environment. During Covid many of the thousands of projects it supports have turned to how to help people back  into work and be at the forefront of a new green economy.

Its Natural Neighbourhoods project, for example, helps young people in disadvantaged areas of the Midlands and the North that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, towards employment. Teams work to enhance parks and green spaces that matter to local communities.

Free online training

If you’re looking to change careers, get a promotion, or enhance academic studies, there are a growing number of online courses, many free, a lot of which offer a qualification or accreditation. Learnisa is a hub for searching what is on offer, posting over 40,000 online courses including those from Google, Microsoft and Imperial College London.

It has just published a guide for 2021 . It covers future-proofing your career and paycheck, researching what digital and personal skills are most helpful to develop during the pandemic, with links to suitable courses, and tips on how to become job ready within six months by using Learnisa to polish your skills.

The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance is working to prevent unemployment following the Covid-19 pandemic as well as helping people who have lost their job during the pandemic to get back on their feet. Have a look at The Big Issue’s jobs board or call The Big Issue’s jobs helpline to find a new role or how you can retrain to fit more sustainable roles.

Sign up to The Big Issue’s RORA toolkit to boost your employment prospects too, with a free 3-month digital subscription to The Big Issue magazine, discounted courses with FutureLearn and access to a weekly newsletter packed with hints, tips and advice on how to secure your next job.

Career tips and advice from our Jobs and Training series:

The top job adverts to look out for as lockdown eases

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