Losing your job

If you have recently lost your job, or had a drop in income, visit the benefits and reduced income page for further advice.

Job seeking and employment support
Young people
Transferable skills
Learning new skills
Working for yourself
Reading libraries

Job seeking and employment support

National Careers Service

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

Local recruitment agencies

There are many specialist employment agencies around Reading – registering with them will often give you the fastest access to major employers, and they will actively market you to companies seeking your kind of skills. Sectors range from logistics, to construction, to healthcare, to digital technology and communication.

Some of these provide contract staff to large companies, so 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, and it might suit you to try different jobs before settling on a permanent role.

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

Reed, Brook Street, Forest, Austin Fraser, Hays, Randstad and Charles Hunter are just a few local agencies.

Online job sites

There are plenty of places to look for jobs online. The well known names are Indeed, Monster, Reed, CV Library, Adzuna, Find a Job

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

LinkedIn and Gumtree

It’s a really good idea to have a LinkedIn profile, and to make sure that it’s up to date and relevant to the jobs you are looking for.

You can find jobs through LinkedIn and employers could well check you out through your profile, so make sure it is saying all the right things about you and that you updating it every week.

Gumtree is another route to sell your services, whether you work for yourself or want to be employed. Small businesses often use Gumtree to recruit, so include that in your online searches.

Word of mouth

Don’t forget the obvious! Let people around you (especially work colleagues) know that you are looking for a new position. They can let you know if any vacancies are coming up where they work.

Berkshire opportunities

Berkshire Opportunities allows you to carry out a job search across Berkshire and has links to the employment support teams at National Careers Service, including apprenticeships and other training routes.

Young people

If you’re 18 to 24 years old and find yourself out of work, help and support is available from many places.

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 to work.

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

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

Social media 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.

You can search #getbritainworking for the latest news from DWP.

Brighter Futures for Children

For career advice, exam results support and employment guidance for young people up to 19 years get in touch with Brighter Futures for Children.

Traineeships (for 16 to 24s)

A traineeship is a skills development programme with a training provider, that includes a work placement. These can last from six weeks to a year, but will usually be less than six months.

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 will provide support with things like CV writing, and improving your English, maths and digital skills if you need it. There will 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, who can pay you expenses like travel and meals, but as this is a training programme you will still claim benefits throughout where eligible.

Various local colleges and training providers are offering traineeships. You can search for available traineeships on Gov.uk.

New Directions College

Traineeships through New Directions College in south Reading, offers work placements within Reading Borough Council.

Try Activate Learning (Reading/Bracknell and Wokingham College) where you can search for all the courses currently on offer with employers across Berkshire.


The Kickstart Scheme for 16-24 year olds is a six month paid job with a local employer, providing real work experience.

Transferable skills

You might find yourself in a situation where your previous role is no longer in demand from employers. This could be a challenge and will 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, customer service skills are in demand in every sector, as are digital skills, project management, and financial control. Lots of employers will tell you it’s the person they are looking at – the right attitude, energy and commitment. They can train you to do the rest.

National Careers Service

Job Help Campaign

Job Help Campaign (transferable skills)

If you are looking to upskill or reskill, New Directions College offers a full range of free accredited courses. This includes digital skills training, customer service and personal development programmes.


The Coronavirus lockdown created a surge in community volunteering. This is still a good option as you can make a real difference to the lives of people within your community. It will also keep you busy, and focussed, and will look great on your CV.

For local volunteering opportunities, whether it’s befriending a lonely person, helping a child to read, or delivering food to a vulnerable person, contact Reading Voluntary Action.

Learning new skills

There are many options available for you if you are thinking about retraining, learning a trade, enhancing some existing skills, or simply studying something you love.

All age apprenticeships

Apprenticeships come in all sectors and ability levels, and are no longer just for the under 24s. The following websites have advice on the various types of apprenticeship levels, what kind of training to expect, and what you can earn. They have listings of apprenticeships available in the area, but you can also find apprenticeships listings on many recruitment sites, as well as on Berkshire Opportunities.

Become an apprentice

Real stories

Adult apprenticeships

Adult learning

New Directions College

Reading’s Adult Learning Service delivers employability programmes, as well as key skills in maths, English literature and English language. There is vocational training in childcare, education, business administration, team leading, management and hospitality.

It also offers a range of apprenticeships. New Directions College and its partners and subcontractors specifically offer support to adults aged 19+ who are looking for employment support and may need upskilling or reskilling.

As an unemployed adult, in receipt of benefits, you will be eligible to access a full range of courses and qualifications, up to and including Level 2, that will be completely free of charge.

Higher education

If you are interested in following a degree course, or going higher than a degree, 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.

Don’t forget 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 the OU’s OpenLearn courses – they offer over 950 free online short courses.

Working for yourself

Have you thought about running your own business? Can you be sure it’s the right move for you?

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

Finally, 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.

Support in the community

Reading libraries

Libraries in Reading offer bookable self-service computer sessions and a range of online and physical books to help with all aspects of job seeking, skills and learning – plus there is free wifi with a library card.

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

The service is running in a different way to normal – details on library opening.


Launchpad offers an education, training and employment service. Clients can receive support with numeracy and literacy skills, IT skills, CV writing and interview skills, accessing education and training opportunities, overcoming employment barriers (for example, criminal records or lack of qualifications), travel costs and getting suitable clothes, and online learning courses.

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 office@communicare.org.uk or 0118 926 3941.