Finding employment

There are lots of jobs available for you. Whether you are currently unemployed or looking for a better paid/more flexible job, here is the information you need to start looking for employment. If you have recently lost your job, or had a drop in income, visit benefits and reduced income to see if you could be entitled to benefits and get advice.

Looking for a job
Support looking for a job
Before you start working
Help with childcare
Young people
Transferable skills
Learning new skills
All age apprenticeships
Adult learning
Working for yourself
Support in the community

Looking for a job

Local recruitment agencies

Register with local recruitment agencies. This will often give you quick access to major employers. They will promote you to companies seeking your kind of skills or experience.

Some recruitment agencies provide contract staff to large companies. This would mean you will be working for the agency usually on a variety of short-term placements. This could be a good route to more permanent positions. It might suit you to try different jobs before settling on a permanent role.

Here are some of the local recruitment agencies:

Online job sites

You can look for jobs online. Some of the sites (like Adzuna) pull information together from other sites and cover the whole of the UK. On other sites you can personalise your searches within a certain area, sector, or job type. You can also set up alerts for new jobs as they are advertised.

Here are some of the main online job sites:


It’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile. Employers look on LinkedIn for relevant skills and experience when they are recruiting. You should make sure you keep it updated and relevant to the jobs you are looking for.


Whether you work for yourself or as an employee, Gumtree is a way to sell your services. Make sure you say all the right things about you and your skills and experience. Small businesses often use Gumtree to recruit.

Word of mouth

Tell people (especially work colleagues) that you are looking for a new position. It might sound obvious, but they can let you know if any vacancies are coming up where they work.

Support looking for a job

Berkshire opportunities

Berkshire Opportunities offers people in the area information on how to upskill or find a career. It has resources to help you understand the career opportunities and pathways available.

National Careers Service

The National Careers Service offers impartial careers advice and guidance to adults.

Help for women looking for work

Smart Works provides women in the Thames Valley area with high quality clothes and accessories for a job interview. The service works on referral. It is open to women who have a confirmed job interview for a paid position, apprenticeship, internship or voluntary work.

You will receive coaching with a human resources professional or senior manager. This includes one-to-one interview preparation. If you are successful at interview, you will get five more pieces of clothing so you feel ready and confident in your new role.

Help for those with a disability or long-term health condition

If you have a disability or long-term health condition and are looking for work, support is available including programmes and grants.

Here is some more information:

  • Department for work & Pensions – advice on support available and how your local Job Centre can help you including the Access to Work scheme.
  • Shaw Trust – A national charity that helps people facing disadvantage into work, gain skills and take control of their futures. Click here for contact details.
  • Mencap – A national charity working to improve the lives of people with a learning disability.

Help with childcare

If your child is 3 to 4 years old, you may be able to get 30 hours free approved childcare if you live in England. information on 30 hours free childcare.

If your child is 2 to 4 years old, you may be able to get 15 hours of free approved childcare if you live in England. information on 15 hours free childcare.

Speak to your Work Coach at the Jobcentre Plus if your child is under two years old and you have up front nursery fees. If you need other support to take up employment, they will be able to discuss any discretionary support that might be available.

Government help with childcare costs for parents. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support at Childcare Choices.

Before you start working

Make sure you know your contracted hours, and that these are guaranteed, unless you prefer a more flexible working arrangement.

Do a benefit check to see what impact working will have on any benefits you claim now, or if you will be entitled to benefits when working.

Young people

If you’re 18 to 24 years old and are not working specialised support is available for you.

Brighter Futures for Children

Brighter Futures for Children offers career advice, exam support and employment guidance for young people up to 19 years.

Jobcentre Plus

If you’re looking for advice about careers or other options, then your local DWP Jobcentre can put you in touch with a careers adviser.

A work coach can give you information about programmes to help you prepare for, find, and stay in work. You can also get help with moving from benefits into work.

You can search for job vacancies online, talk to local recruitment agencies or even try contacting employers direct.

National Careers Service

Find out how to create a CV and other advice with the National Careers Service and see 11 steps to a great job interview on BuzzFeed.

Starting Point

Starting Point provides mentoring and creates opportunities for young people aged 11–25.

Traineeships (for 16 to 24 year olds)

A traineeship is a skills development programme with a training provider and includes a work placement. These can last from six weeks to a year (but usually less than six months).

They are aimed at 16 to 24 year olds (or 25 year olds with an education, health and care plan). A traineeship will help you get ready for an apprenticeship or job if you don’t have the appropriate skills or experience.

Traineeships are free, and give support with things like CV writing, and improving your English, maths, and digital skills if you need it. There may also be vocational learning, based on the sector you are working in, which could lead to an apprenticeship or job.

You get at least 70 hours work with an employer. The employer can pay you expenses like travel and meals, but you will still claim benefits throughout where eligible.

You can search for available traineeships on . Local colleges and training providers are also offering traineeships, including Traineeships through New Directions College.

Social media

This can be a great way to keep in touch with vacancies or other support. Follow your local Jobcentre on Twitter or follow employers that you’d like to work for. You can also use hashtags to see what’s being shared on Twitter, such as #jobs, #vacancies or #careers.

Transferable skills

You might find yourself in a situation where your previous role is no longer in demand. This could be frustrating when you can no longer do the job you have trained for, and may have enjoyed, for many years.

If you are facing a change of career, whatever your age, think about your existing skills. Can you take these with you to a new role in a different sector? For example, if you have customer service skills in one sector they may be useful in another sector. The same goes for digital skills, project management, and financial control.

Lots of employers will tell you it’s the person they are looking at. They want the right attitude, energy and commitment. They can train you to do the rest.


If you are unemployed and looking for work, you can volunteer with a local organisation through the Work Together programme. Your Jobcentre Plus work coach will help you to find a volunteering opportunity.

You can also contact Reading Voluntary Action for local volunteering opportunities. Most offer full training with no need for existing skills. There are different types of roles offered. These roles can build your skills which will help you find paid employment.

Learning new skills

There are many options available for you if you are thinking adding to your skills.

New Directions College – offers a variety of courses. They have flexible timetables, classroom delivery and online learning. Many courses are free or discounted. They can give a range of learning and support including help with the cost of childcare and access to computers.

Activate Learning (Reading/Bracknell and Wokingham College) – offers many courses. You can search for all the courses currently available. This includes part-time courses and apprenticeships with employers across Berkshire.

All age apprenticeships

Apprenticeships come in all sectors and ability levels and are no longer only for the under 24s.
The following websites have advice on the various types of apprenticeships. They tell you what kind of training to expect and what you can earn. They have listings of apprenticeships available in the area.

You can also find apprenticeship listings on many recruitment sites.

Adult learning

New Directions College offers employability programmes and vocational training. The vocational training covers childcare, education, business administration, team leading, management and hospitality. They also have courses in key skills in maths and English.

Multiply being delivered through New Directions Collage is a new government-funded programme to help adults improve their numeracy skills.

If you’re aged 19 and over and don’t have maths GCSE at grade C (or equivalent), you can access free numeracy courses through Multiply to build your confidence with numbers and gain a qualification.

Good numeracy skills may unlock job opportunities and lead to higher wages or prepare you for further study. They also help in everyday life, such as helping children with homework and budgeting money.

Higher education

If you want to study a degree course, or higher, now might be the perfect time.

You can check if your current qualifications allow you to apply for university on the UCAS website.

Universities offer a huge range of vocational training, post-graduate learning (including teacher training) and master’s degrees.

Reading College (Activate Learning) also offers a 36 week access course which will qualify you for university.

The Open University offers all sorts of flexible options to completing a degree at your own pace.

If you don’t want to commit to a full course yet, then take a look at:

  • OU’s OpenLearn – they offer over 950 free online short courses
  • FutureLearn – hundreds of online courses from top universities and specialist organisations

Working for yourself

Have you thought about running your own business? This might be as a second income or your main source of income. The below information can help you decide if it is right for you.

You can find all the technical background information you need to set up your business on – working for yourself.

If you have a strong idea that you’d like to develop then register for Berkshire Business Hub’s free pre-accelerator course. Berkshire Business Hub also offers details and access to other business support and guidance.

More information about being self-employed and on Universal Credit. You can speak to your work coach for more support.

Support in the community

Reading libraries

Libraries in Reading offer computer sessions and online and physical books to help with job seeking, skills and learning. The computer sessions are bookable and self-service. They also have free Wi-Fi if you have a library card.

There is also a wide range of books. Reading can support mental health and wellbeing, as well as giving pleasure.

Details on library opening times


Launchpad offers an education, training and employment service. It can give support with skills in:

  • numeracy
  • literacy
  • IT
  • CV writing
  • being interviewed

They also offer help with accessing education and training opportunities. They give advice on employment barriers (for example, criminal records or lack of qualifications). They can also help you to cover travel costs and getting suitable clothes for interviews.

Launchpad is also opening Reading’s first work and life skills centre. The service will be available to those facing homelessness. The centre will include a training kitchen for cooking and barista courses, and an IT suite for job searching and online learning.


CommuniCare offers varying levels of employment advice. They also assist with CV writing, job searches, and job applications. Contact or 0118 926 3941.

Citizens Advice Reading

If you think you’ve been unfairly treated by your employer, Citizens Advice may be able to help.

As well as dealing with most employment issues, they can help you through the dispute process up to the point of submitting a tribunal claim. Please note, they cannot represent you at a tribunal or court but can help you to find free or affordable legal help.

First contact is through their Adviceline on 0800 144 8848.

Last updated on 08/04/2024