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After caring-getting your career back on track

You may want to return to work once your caring role ends. If you have given up work to become a full-time carer or have not been able to take up paid employment before because of your caring responsibilities, you may want to get your career back on track.

Identifying your skills

You may be unsure of what you want to do, or even what it is that you are capable of doing. It may help to first identify the skills you have. Think of what you have learned from being a carer. As well as paid work, this may include the tasks and responsibilities involved in being a carer such as organising and arranging care support.

Think about any voluntary and community work you may have been involved in and identify any transferable skills you have built up during any job or activity (that you can apply to other jobs).

Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service can give you more advice on identifying transferable skills.

If you feel you no longer have the skills you once had, or you'd like to brush up on them, you may be entitled to fully funded vocational skills training including National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), employability, English, maths and ICT. If you are receiving benefits your Jobcentre Plus Work Coach will be able to offer advice, or you can approach your local college directly about accessing training.

National Careers Service

The National Careers Service offers careers and skills advice for people looking for work, including carers. Ways the National Careers Service can help include:

  • advice on drawing up and perfecting your CV
  • the ability to search for courses and training in your area
  • help with finding funding for different courses
  • advice on work experience, apprenticeships and looking for work online

To find the job or career that is right for you, it is often worth spending time thinking about the kind of job you want to do and what motivates you. You can draw up a list of your hobbies, interests and experience inside and outside of your work history, such as:

  • qualifications and courses
  • jobs you have had - both paid and unpaid
  • achievements in these jobs, especially if you can use examples to show what you did, such as awards, sales targets met, increases in efficiency or profit
  • interests and hobbies
  • transferable skills you gained as a carer, such as problem solving and the ability to be flexible

If you're not sure what kind of work might suit you, you could try out the National Careers Service Skills Health Check. This is a set of online questionnaires that produce an end report giving you information about your skills, interests and motivations in the workplace. The tools help you to think about the kinds of jobs that might be best for you in future.

You can contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 (free to call from a landline, mobile charges vary), Monday to Sunday, 8am to 10pm. You can also arrange for a National Careers Service adviser to call you. This won't cost you anything.


Many carers' caring responsibilities can prevent them from taking up work, or force them into giving up work in the short or long term.

For carers who may have been out of the workforce for some time, a good way of reintroducing yourself to work, when and if that time arises, is through voluntary work.

Volunteering can provide a carer with an interest not connected to their role as a carer. Many people find volunteering builds their confidence and confirms for them that they do already have good work skills, as well as giving them something to talk about in a job interview.

You are allowed to work as a volunteer without your benefits being affected, as long as the work you do is unpaid and you meet the rules of your benefit.

You will be considered as being a volunteer, for benefits and tax credits purposes, if you:

  • do not receive any money for the work you do (this does not include expenses)
  • are not legally obliged to volunteer
  • volunteer for a not-for-profit organisation
  • volunteer for someone who is not a family member

However, you will not be considered as a volunteer if it's your choice not to be paid for work that you otherwise would be. Speak to your Work Coach or Jobcentre Plus office about the work you are allowed to do that won't affect your entitlement to benefits.

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