Some you can even access for free!

Skills are your gateway to better career prospects. With the hard and soft skills that employers are looking for, you're more likely to land a job, succeed in your role, or secure that promotion you're after. In this article, we'll look at UK skills courses that may be available to you and how you can use them to take control of your career. 

What is skill development?

Skills development is a broad area. It involves improving your skills either through on-the-job training, online programmes, or in-person courses, and can cover both hard (role specific) and soft (transferable) skills. By developing your skills, you can get better at your current job, improve your employability, and position yourself as a credible and knowledgeable professional in your field. 

Which skills are most in demand?

The most in-demand skills will vary by industry. For example, in the hospitality sector, customer service is the most in-demand skill, whereas in the banking sector, numeracy skills are required. Transferable skills, such as communication and project management, are in demand across multiple industries and are therefore great assets to have in your job search arsenal. 

Technical skills can be amongst the best paid these days. Almost every industry uses some form of technology; combined with the fast pace of technological change, if you can keep your technical skills up to date, you'll always have earning potential. 

What types of courses are available?

Wherever you are in the UK, the government website will help you to access skills development courses at various levels. You're most likely to find a suitable course if you're a recent graduate, want to develop your digital, English or numeracy skills, or want to pursue an apprenticeship.

There's a world of courses available, whatever your role, education level, or seniority, so you're bound to find something that suits your current situation. They're available to meet different learning preferences, whether you work best online, in a classroom, or with a hybrid arrangement, and many can fit around your schedule, too. 

Are UK skills courses free?

While some courses will incur a fee, many are available to learners at no cost at all – just check out these free courses from the UK government skills toolkit. It really depends on what you want to study and at what level.

Even if courses aren't free, you may be able to get help with the fees from a government bursary, learner support grant, or from your employer. Additionally, some courses are free if you don't have an equivalent qualification at that level or higher. 

If you're claiming Universal Credit, you may be required to attend training as part of your claimant commitment. This training will be free of charge, but Universal Credit will not pay for other training courses. However, if you choose to take a different course, your Universal Credit payments will continue. 

You can find more free courses and qualifications for adults from the UK government in their Education Hub

Where else can I access free courses?

Apart from using the government website, there are several other ways in which you can access courses. 

Through your employer

If you're currently employed, your employer may be able to offer you skills development courses to support your career development. This is beneficial for them, as well as for you, as investing in their employees means that their overall productivity will improve and they can promote from within, rather than undergoing a time-consuming and costly recruitment process. 

Moreover, employers will often pay for you to complete NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications), which are well-recognised courses, available at various levels and in a wide variety of subjects. Therefore, it's always worth asking if they will support you by providing internal training or paying for you to complete an external course. 


There are thousands of UK skills courses available online, and the good news is that many of them are free! With online providers such as Coursera and Udemy, you can learn in your spare time and earn a certificate at the end of the course. If you want to change career direction or try out a new skill before committing, these are a great place to start.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are usually free, although they may charge for a final certificate of completion. LinkedIn Learning also offers free skills-based courses. Longer courses, accredited programmes, and online degrees usually have a fee – often a quite significant one! 


If in-person learning is more your style, local councils often offer adult learning opportunities. It's also worth visiting the websites of local colleges, to see if they offer any evening classes in subjects you're interested in. Many universities also offer either evening or online qualifications, so if you're after a more specialised course why not carry out an online search?

Whether you like classroom-based or online learning, the Government's National Careers Service is worth a look as they have a wide range of UK skills courses for adults.

Which UK skills courses am I eligible for?

Eligibility criteria vary depending on the course and the provider. Many online courses are accessible to everyone, but courses that offer an accredited award on completion are likely to have stricter entry criteria. Most criteria are based on previous learning – for example, a university-level course will require evidence of completing A-level studies or equivalent. 

The government funds access to many Level 3 courses (equivalent to A-levels) if you're over 19, don't already have a Level 3 qualification (or do, but earn below the National Living Wage) or are unemployed. 

What subjects are available?

If you can think of it, there's a course for it! Most free courses, particularly those available through government sites, focus on either basic entry-level skills or skills where there is high demand. For example, there's a wealth of free digital skills courses and basic IT courses available if you feel your skills in that area are holding you back.

Consider your career objectives and personal interests when choosing a subject. For those wishing to change direction, taking a course relevant to your target industry shows a commitment to the transition. For example, a hairdresser wanting to move into the IT sector might take a cybersecurity course. Those aiming for entry-level roles may choose a basic course in communication or customer service, whereas those aiming for promotion might prefer something that will take their existing skills to the next level. Whether you're looking to develop your soft skills or hard skills, the right programme is out there for you. 

Pre-enrolment checks

To avoid wasting your time (and potentially your money), there are a few basic checks you should do before you sign up for a skills development course. 

  • Does the course cover topics you need to learn about and / or are interested in?

  • What are the entry requirements / eligibility criteria?

  • What are the course fees and can you access financial support?

  • Does learning take place online or in a classroom?

  • How flexible is the course? Can you study at your own pace?

  • How long are you expected to commit for? Courses can last from a few hours to a few years.

  • How will you be assessed?

  • What qualification will you achieve on completion?

What to do on completion of a course

Congratulations, you've finished your course! Whatever you've studied, it's likely to improve your career prospects. The first thing to do is add your new talents to your CV. You'll certainly want to add the subject, level, and year of completion to the Qualifications or Professional Development section, and you may also choose to mention it in your Profile if it's especially pertinent to your next steps. 

Don't make the mistake of thinking that in-house training or online learning don't count on a CV. Employers recognise that learning happens in all shapes and sizes and will appreciate your dedication and commitment, as well as your knowledge. 

Don't forget to add your new skills to your LinkedIn profile too – in both the Courses and Skills sections – and maybe even write a post about what you've achieved!

Skills courses on a CV – examples

It always helps to have an example to visualise how you can make your CV work! Here are a couple of examples, with different levels of detail: 


Certificate: Cybersecurity, 2024

Internal training: IT Skills for Finance Professionals, 2022


Online course: Foundations of Digital Marketing

Modules included: The Customer Journey, The Marketing Funnel, eCommerce Strategy, and Measuring Performance

Completed: 2024

Level up your skills to level up your career

With so many UK skills courses available to you, there's really no excuse not to get learning! Whatever your career objectives, learning style, and budget, you'll certainly be able to find the right course for you. 

When you've added your achievement to your CV, why not send it to the experts at TopCV for a free CV review?

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