Identifying skills and upskilling
Learn what skills you have and want to develop, and how you can gain the skills you need for jobs you’re interested in.
Types of skills
Employers look for a mix of:
- hard skills, or job-specific skills. You may get these from formal training or experience
- soft skills, which include transferable skills like teamwork, communication and problem solving
Identify your skills
To learn what soft skills and hard skills you’ll need for jobs you’re interested in you can:
- check the job description
- take a look at our job profiles
- talk to people you know about their job
To identify your skills and decide what skills to develop, you could:
- think about what you do in your current job
- reflect on your past education and work experiences
- think about the skills you’ve gained in daily life
- talk to people who know you well outside of work, for a different perspective
- write down a list of strengths and areas you’d like to improve
- take our skills health check to see what strengths you have
Improve your skills
Improving the right skills can make you a better candidate for the job you want. New skills may even take you in a completely different career direction.
Work on your skills gaps
You could work on improving your:
- digital skills
- people skills - for example, through volunteering
- skills which may have gone out of date - for example, because of a gap in employment
- communication or number skills
- interview skills
Courses and training
You could gain new skills by doing a course, an apprenticeship, or learning on the job.
For help deciding your next step and whether further training is for you, you can speak to an adviser. You could also contact your local:
- training providers
- Jobcentre plus
- jobseeker support programmes
Taking a course does not have to be a full-time commitment. There are flexible ways to learn like:
- online learning
- short courses
- evening classes
Find an online course
Use The Skills Toolkit to access free, high quality courses to help you build up your skills.
Volunteering and work experience
Volunteering can help you to develop new skills and get useful work experience. It's also a good way to support your community and help others.
You can find out more about volunteering from:
Find local volunteer centres through the National Council of Volunteer Organisations (NCVO). You could also try organisations like Citizens Advice.
You can learn new skills and build your knowledge on your own. You could:
- use ‘teach yourself’ style books and CDs
- listen to podcasts from professional organisations
- watch videos online
- join online communities for specific skills, like cookery or motor vehicle maintenance
- watch educational TV and radio programmes
- download skills apps on your mobile or tablet
Make a career plan
Set yourself some ‘SMART’ goals when deciding your next steps. These should be:
With these in mind, you can create a plan of action. Think about the time you can give to your goals, taking into account your:
- personal circumstances
- work and personal commitments
Be flexible with your career plan
Develop your plan with a long term aim and short term goals so you can break up your time. You should think about all the different routes you could take to get to your career aim.
If you are looking at nursing as a career, you could volunteer or work in healthcare or home care. This will help build experience working with people in care.
Your volunteering and work experience opportunities may not be the exact role you want to do. But relevant experience and training will make your job applications and CV stronger.
For example, you might want to work with disabled people. You may only be able to get work experience in elderly care. This will still give you relevant skills that are transferable to the area where you want to work in the future.
Update your CV with new skills
Keep your CV up to date by adding any new skills and how you gained them. This can help you to tailor your CV to the job you want.
Our CV advice can help you get started.
Speak to an adviser
You can call 0800 100 900 or use webchat to speak to an adviser.
Our opening hours are:
- 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday
- 10am to 5pm Saturdays and bank holidays
- closed Sundays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
We're also closed on Saturday 6 May 2023 for the coronation of King Charles III.