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Choosing training to suit your career

Category: Tips and Advice

Choosing training to suit your career Re-training for your next career? Where to start? It is important that you don’t invest time and money in courses that are not appropriate for your chosen path, but what is the best way to find out what qualifications would be useful to gain. 

Take Stock 

It is useful to first carry out a personal skills “health check” to explore where your future career may lie. Ask yourself:
  • What am I interested in? 
  • What are my skills and experience? 
  • Can I apply them in a different way? 
  • What do I want? For example, you may want less stress and responsibility, less paperwork and admin, or less time spent travelling? 
  • What is my unique selling point or specialist area of expertise? Do I need to re-train or can I draw on existing skills and qualifications? 
  • Am I willing to retrain and start from the bottom again? 

If you’re still not sure what your new career path should be, the National Careers Service website features a handy assessment tool designed to help you discover what kind of jobs might suit you. The Skills Health Check is a set of quizzes and activities designed to help you explore your skills, interests and motivations. 

The National Careers Service website also has a useful job profiles function, where you can find out what a job involves and whether or not it might be right for you. There are more than 800 different types of jobs profiled, each including the skills and qualifications you need, what the work would be like, the salary you could expect and what the career prospects are. This is an extremely valuable tool for job specific courses and also CV writing guidance on key skills needed for a specific career. 

If you really don’t have any idea, it might be useful to make a list of everything you remember enjoying about previous jobs and, equally important, what elements you didn’t enjoy! Speak with family and friends to gain their views. Once you have finished the list, look for patterns and think about how those patterns make you feel. Do any resonate with you? If so, make a list of those that do and use it as a starting point to think about what you might like to do in the future. 

Of course, your CTP Career Consultant is on hand to bounce ideas with you and offer guidance at every stage, so you are not alone. 


Now that you have taken stock, consider if you need to retrain at all! If you already hold civilian recognised qualifications for your chosen role or you have relevant experience but not the specific qualification sought by industry, can you convert what you already have. There is likely to be a cost to this service, but one place you can look at is the ILM Website. Armed Forces personnel are able to translate the leadership skills and knowledge gained through all types of military training courses into an ILM qualification, making them more meaningful to employers.

Your Entitlement 

Refer to the CTP website to calculate your personal entitlement to courses, funding and resettlement time to establish everything you have at your disposal to retrain. Please also speak with your Service Resettlement Advisor to find out what your entitlement is, which is dependent on time served. 


Now that you have identified the way ahead, think about how best to find out what qualifications and courses would be useful to you. There are a number of ways you can do this: 

Personal Networking: 
  • Ask colleagues who are maybe ahead of you in the process and who are following the same path.
  • Friends and Family members. Are any of them already in the line of work you are aiming for and can they advise and assist you?
  • Social Media, especially LinkedIn, offer great opportunities to connect with others and ask them what training they undertook.
Networking through CTP Events:
  • Check the CTP Events Calendar for relevant events by employers and industry sectors of interest.
  • Join any appropriate CTP Live Chats, where you can ask employers directly how the qualifications you already hold may fit, or for advice on the best training for you to undertake to secure a position with them.
  • Attend any CTP Insight Events by employers, which offer a face to face with the employment teams of the business.
  • Book to attend CTP Employment Fairs, the easy way for ex-forces personnel to meet local and national employers who are specifically seeking the skills and experience offered by Service leavers.
  • Check out the CTP Industry Sector Guides which outline appropriate training and current job vacancies within each industry. This document is updated monthly.
  • Take a look at the Employer Focus Pages. These include some of the specially selected organisations who are interested in recruiting you and each page offers tips and advice on how to make a successful application.
  • Visit the CTP Focus Newsletter section of the website, specifically the training and tips and advice sections.
  • CTP Resettlement Training Fact Sheets give information on professions and also courses that link with each other.
  • Research job vacancies, on Right Job and other sources, to identify employer needs. Which qualifications are repeatedly required for the roles?
Civilian Work Placements:

For unbeatable work experience, useful contacts and to help you decide on a future career, Civilian Work Attachments (CWA) provide the opportunity to ensure employers and employees are well matched. Even if you don’t end up working for that employer, you’ve still gained vital experience and knowledge of that job sector – boosting your chances of getting a job with someone else.  

Why you should consider a CWA:
  • To gain experience of a particular industry and knowledge of appropriate qualifications direct from the employer.
  • To try out a particular job role.
  • To see whether your skills and experience are suited to the chosen position.
  • To develop an understanding of the civilian working environment.
  • To broaden your knowledge of the opportunities available to you in an industry.
  • To illustrate a willing to learn to potential employers.
  • To experience the culture of a particular organisation and to understand whether you will be a good fit for each other.

You can find CWA opportunities advertised on RightJob, or can source your own placement by contacting employers direct or with the help of your CTP Employer Relationship Manager through your Career Consultant.

Earn While You Learn

If you would prefer to be earning while you learn, you might consider an Apprenticeship or Internship:


An Apprenticeship is a real job with training, which allows you to earn while you learn, as well as gaining a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships take between one and five years to complete and cover 1,500 job roles in a wide range of industries, from engineering to accountancy, public relations to veterinary nursing.

There are four levels of Apprenticeship available, depending on applicants’ skills and qualifications: Intermediate Apprenticeship (level 2), Advanced Apprenticeship (level 3) and Higher Apprenticeship (level 4 or 5) and Degree Apprenticeship (6 or 7). 

Apprenticeships are available to anyone who has reached the legal school leaving age, which varies slightly between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are different entry requirements depending on the sector and job. The core components for Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships are: a nationally recognised vocational qualification, functional skills (e.g. literacy, numeracy and ICT), a technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds (relevant to the specific Apprenticeship), and other professional qualifications or requirements as specified by the particular job.


An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, lasting for a fixed period of time anywhere between a week and 12 months. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills.

Employers use these placements to assess a student's or graduate's capability and often recruit employees from their interns, rather than advertise their vacancies externally. You should therefore apply for an internship which you have a real interest in.

People often confuse internships and work placements but the two types of experience are different. While internships are usually undertaken over the summer months or after graduation to gain experience in a particular field, work placements, also known as a year-in-industry or placement year, are taken as part of a degree. Students on a placement year are completing a module and receive academic credit for the year.

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