Since the U.K. fell into recession in 2008, the nation has been struggling to get to grips with a large rise in unemployment. This recession has been unique due to the high number of white collar, highly educated and skilled workers who have found themselves unemployed. Industries such as the banking sector have contributed to this with public sector workers among other big losers. A number of retraining grants are now available to those who have lost their job or taken redundancy. The aim is to get as many people back to work as possible in a bid to reinvigorate the U.K. economy.
Adult Learning Grant
The government's Adult Learning Grant is designed to help individuals looking to go to college to study for a BTEC, NVQ, GCSEs or A-Levels. Those eligible may claim up to £30 ($43.36) per week during term time. This equates to up to £1,000 ($1,471) per year. To be eligible you must be studying full-time and have earned less than £19,513 ($28,702) during the previous financial year.
Higher Education Grants
Adults wishing to study at a university for a degree may be eligible for a range of maintenance grants from the government. These are means assessed and designed to help with living expenses and the cost of dependents. The student loan is available to all university students. This loan is taken out to cover tuition fees and living expenses and is paid back over time when the individual returns to work. The interest charged is only equivalent to the rate of inflation so the amount repaid is the same in real terms as that borrowed. Some universities also offer bursaries to less well-off students.
The government offers the Fifty-plus In Work Training Grant to help those aged over fifty go back to work. It pays up to £1,500 ($2,206) to bring older workers computer skills and qualifications up to date. Bursaries are also an excellent way of funding training. Industry specific qualifications may be covered by grants from industry bodies, charities, trade unions or local authorities. The Journalism Diversity Fund, for example, offers means-tested bursaries to those wishing to study for the media industry recognised NCTJ exams.
Career Development Loan
If no grant or bursary is available, mature students may look to the Career Development Loan. Individuals may borrow up to £8,000 ($11,737) to fund course fees and living expenses. Repayments must begin within one month of the course ending with the government covering the interest until then. The loans are administered by banks and courses covered can last for up to three years.