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Education can be a great way to help secure a new job. This page contains information on how to choose the right course, your eligibility for formal qualification based on your work skills and experience (recognition of prior learning) and, if you are an experienced worker (45 years of age or older) you may also be eligible for the Government’s Skills and Training Incentive.

Identifying your skills

Start thinking about the skills, experience and qualifications that you have developed in your current or most recent role, and in all other jobs you have worked in. It’s a good idea to write them down to help you think about how those skills might fit with other jobs you might be interested in, and how the skills you have developed can make you stand out to a new employer.

Don’t just focus on the skills and knowledge are specific to your or most recent job. Your work experience also shows that you are reliable, that you turn up to work when required and that when you are at work, you work hard. These kinds of skills and experiences are very important for employers, who are always looking for reliable people.

What are transferable skills?

Employers are interested in transferable skills. These are the skills, abilities and knowledge you have acquired and demonstrated through your experience that can be utilised in other jobs and industries.

Transferable skills might be related to your employability, personal qualities or soft skills such as people skills, being able to communicate, being able to work as part of a team, solving problems, being resilient, being able to adapt, being motivated and reliable and being innovative.

If you can think of examples of these skills from your work experience, it will help you with your job search, job application writing and updating your resume.

Everyone has transferable skills, but finding ways to effectively communicate these skills to a new employer can be difficult. Below are a few things you can do to make the most of your transferable skills.

Identify your transferable skills

Use the Skills Stocktake Activity to spend some time documenting the transferable skills you have gained.

Remember, you can gain transferable skills from more than just your work. You may also have gained skills from other work-related activities (previous jobs or active participation in social clubs), from your hobbies and leisure activities (volunteering or sport) and home-based skills (organisational skills and managing a budget).

Describing your transferable skills to employers

Try to think of examples of when you have applied your skills to achieve positive outcomes at work or in other parts of your life, such as voluntary or community work. Make a start by considering the “My achievements” section of the Skills Stocktake Activity.

Think about the way you talk or write about your transferable skills. Try to avoid jargon or technical terms from the industry you last worked in, so that employers in a different industry can understand how your skills are relevant to them.

If you think you have the right transferable skills for a particular job, try to describe these skills using the same keywords and statements used by the employer in their job ad or application form.

Using transferable skills to find a job that suits you

Try to come up with a list jobs that interest you, and then read job ads and descriptions to find out what skills they require. You can also speak to employers directly to ask them what kind of skills they look for in employees.

You can then use your list of transferable skills to figure out how you measure up against the job requirements.

Formal recognition of skills

Even if you have never formally studied or trained in a particular area, you may have gained knowledge and skills through your education, training, work, volunteering (including activities in the community) and life experience.

You may be able to have this skill and knowledge formally recognised and count towards a qualification. This is called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). RPL assessments can reduce the amount of study you have to do for a qualification, and may even award you a qualification in full.

There are many benefits of having your skills and experience formally recognised, including:

  • attaining a formal nationally recognised qualification in a shorter period of time and at a lower cost;
  • increasing your career options;
  • using a diploma qualification as a basis for starting a university course; and
  • making sure you do not waste time studying something you can already do.

For information about how to get assessed for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) go to the myskills Help page.

How do I get RPL?

To have your skills recognised, you need to get a formal assessment from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). An RTO will ask you for evidence of past experience, training or skills relevant to the training course you want to do, such résumés, certificates, performance reviews and job descriptions.

After your RPL assessment, your RTO will tell you how much of your experience will count towards your chosen. They will then tell you which parts of your training you do and do not need to enrol in.

Useful Links

For more information on RPL in your state, see the below links.

Choosing a course

Statistics show that generally, the more education you have, the more likely you are to be in stable employment. However, the wrong training is of no benefit.

Chart: Education levels and employment. Persons aged 25-34 years

So, it is important to make sure the training you want to do is right for you before you commit to a course.

Consider speaking to employers from the industry in which you would like to train. Below are some sample questions you can ask to help you understand whether further training is right for you.

Questions to ask potential employers:

  • What are the minimum training requirements for new employees?
  • Do they require a full qualification or just a few units, licences or tickets?
  • Do they offer apprenticeships or traineeships?
  • Do they have a preferred local training provider?
  • If you are considering a full qualification, do they have preferred electives?

Questions to ask training providers:

  • Is the course the right choice to help you get the job that you want?
  • Is there a list of the core and elective units available for the course?
  • Do you have a preferred Registered Training Provider
  • Are there pre-requisites for the course and what level of English, maths and computer skills will be required?
  • Is Recognition of Prior Learning available?
  • Can you undertake skill sets from a course and / or build on the training or qualification in the future?
  • If a particular job requires licenses or tickets, will the course qualify you for these?
  • What are the employment outcomes for students who have undertaken the course?
  • Is there a work experience component to the course?
  • Is government subsidised training available for this course?
  • Will completing this course limit your future access to government subsidised training?*

*Note that some jurisdictions have eligibility criteria that limits access to government subsidised training based on previous training enrolments (not just on the completed training).

Further information:

Find out more about training at myskills or by visiting your state's training website:

How to find and choose a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)

Once you have worked out what training you require, you need to choose a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that delivers the course and is able to meet your needs as well as the needs of employers in your chosen industry. myskills provides information about study options and opportunities in Vocational Education and Training.

Step 1 – Find local RTOs

If you have a job lined up, find out if the employer has a preferred RTO.

If you do not have a job lined up, you can search RTOs by course or location through the myskills website

Check the training website to ensure that the RTO is accredited to deliver the training.

Step 2 – Make a shortlist of RTOs

Make a shortlist of suitable RTOs by considering the following:

  • What will the course cost?
  • Will you need access to public transport or car parking?
  • Do you have caring/other responsibilities that you will have to fit training around? If so, you may need to investigate child care availability or options for online, school-hours or evening classes.
  • Will you need access to computer facilities?
  • Will you need help with your course work (research support for assignments, help to update your computer skills etc)?
  • Do you need language, literacy and numeracy support?
  • Do you need wheelchair accessible training facilities?

Step 3 – Compare shortlisted RTOs

The next step is to speak with your shortlisted training providers to enquire about the course, including any needs that you identified at Step 2 – an example comparison table is available to assist you with these conversations.

Below are some sample questions you can ask to help you understand whether further training is right for you.

Questions to ask training providers:

  • Is the course the right choice to help you get the job that you want?
  • Is there a list of the core and elective units available for the course?
  • Do you have a preferred Registered Training Provider
  • Are there pre-requisites for the course and what level of English, maths and computer skills will be required?
  • Is Recognition of Prior Learning available?
  • Can you undertake skill sets from a course and / or build on the training or qualification in the future?
  • If a particular job requires licenses or tickets, will the course qualify you for these?
  • What are the employment outcomes for students who have undertaken the course?
  • Is there a work experience component to the course?
  • Is government subsidised training available for this course?
  • Will completing this course limit your future access to government subsidised training?*

*Note that some jurisdictions have eligibility criteria that limits access to government subsidised training based on previous training enrolments (not just on the completed training).

Considering apprenticeships and traineeships

Australian Apprenticeships (often referred to as apprenticeships or traineeships) enable you to earn an income and gain industry experience while you train for a nationally recognised qualification.

Australian Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of occupations as well as in traditional trades and are available to anyone of working age.

You don’t need a secondary school certificate or other qualification to start an Australian Apprenticeship.

The Australian Apprenticeships Pathways website (AAPathways) provides in-depth information about apprenticeships and traineeships, including over 2,500 sample job and training descriptions, steps on how to find a position, industry-based job pathway charts and practice aptitude quizzes.

AAPathways also has specific information for adults looking at starting an apprenticeship or traineeship. If you are re-entering the workforce or looking at a career change, visit the Adult Apprenticeships page.

Language, literacy and numeracy support

If you need help with your language, literacy and numeracy skills, Adult Community Education providers in your area can help. You can learn with other adults in small groups, or even get one-on-one coaching. Adult Community Education programmes are usually free or low cost. They also offer programmes to help you improve your computer and other workplace skills.

Adult Learning Australia can link you to training providers in your area. Call 03 9689 8623 or visit Adult Learning Australia.

If you need help with spelling, reading or other language skills, the Reading Writing can provide you with support. The Reading Writing Hotline is Australia’s national telephone adult literacy and numeracy referral service. Call 1300 655 506 or visit The Reading Writing Hotline.

Many vocational education and training providers also provide bridging courses to support students with their language and literacy skills. Visit the myskills website for more information.

Skills Match

If you want to learn more about how your skills and work experience can prepare you for a career change, a new tool called Skills Match hosted on the Job Outlook website will be publicly available from July 2019.

Transferable skills are increasingly important in assisting workers to move between jobs in a dynamic economy. Skills Match will highlight careers that you may not have previously considered but that have shared skillsets with your work experience. It will also highlight potential skills gaps along with pathways information to address them.