I was made redundant, but can't find any help for mature learners

I’m desperate to find new opportunities, but my universal credit team doesn’t seem terribly interested in supporting me

A Jobcentre employment office in England.
A Jobcentre employment office in England. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
A Jobcentre employment office in England. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Anna Tims

Last modified on Thu 8 Apr 2021 02.07 EDT

I was made redundant two months ago and have been actively looking for new opportunities. My job coach from the universal credit team seems largely uninterested and I feel I’m chasing shadows. All my experience is in hospitality, where I cannot find any jobs or affordable options to retrain.

I am getting desperate: there are schemes for those who have been receiving benefits for 12-13 weeks, but I do not qualify for them yet and I do not want to waste time by doing nothing before I do. I am a single mother and would love to set a good example for my son, but first I need to ensure we would still have a roof over our heads. Are there any support programmes aimed at mature learners? I feel like shouting out loud: I’m here, so what can I do? Not much, according to my job coach.
AS, London

There are a number of employability schemes but you are likely to have to apply for them via your work coach, so if they are failing you you should consider making a complaint. In the meantime the charity Turn2us offers advice on available grants and benefits for those in financial hardship. This month the government launched its national skills fund, but that’s only available to those who lack qualifications equivalent to two A-levels. Should you consider full-time education, you could apply for a maintenance grant and a student loan, but obviously that would mean a longer wait to get started.

Any student finance support would be deducted from your universal credit award for which, as a parent, you will still qualify. While you’re waiting to become eligible for a career development loan, which covers the full training fees of applicants who have been unemployed for more than 13 weeks, you could try one of the free online courses offered by the skills tookit. The modules, which take about eight hours, range from computer science to business finance and, while they alone won’t qualify you for a new career, they may give you a taste for different options.

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