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Exeter Works doors will be closing on 31 March, but you will still be able to get support and guidance on our website. The Youth Hub will open the doors to its new home in Exeter Library from 3 April.

To celebrate September’s Festival of Learning, Exeter Works had a chat with Jo Caine from Cathedral Appointments, to hear the recruitment consultant’s view of why it’s important to continue to learn, at any age.

We often associate education with school, college, or higher education. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning can, and should, happen at any time in our lives – age is just a number and the ability to expand our horizons is infinite.

According to the Adult Participation in Learning Survey, nearly half (43 per cent) of UK adults – 22 million people – have taken part in extra learning because of the lockdowns and furlough scheme created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The past 18 months have, of course, been different to the ‘usual’ way of working but what it has shown us is that the need to continuously learn, train, upskill or perhaps even build up the confidence to take a leap of faith and do something completely different, is crucial.

Nevertheless, post-COVID it may feel difficult to know how to balance work and life with extra learning. Here are a few ideas to help you start your extra-curricular journey.

Read for pleasure

Education may conjure up pictures of huge textbooks and long essays, and while that may be necessary when undertaking a degree – not all learning has to be like that. If there is a topic or industry that particularly appeals to you, look around for easier-to-read titles that are just as informative but much quicker to digest, and enjoy those during your down time.

Even better yet, look for books that are a good mixture of words and images – we retain 80 per cent of what we see and 20 per cent of what we read. A mixture of the two is a recipe for success!

Add yourself to groups on social media

According to research by Ofcom, 86 per cent of adults use the internet and we spend, on average, just under four hours online each day. A fifth of this time per week is spent on social media platforms according to a further poll cited in The Independent.

Rather than spending this time aimlessly scrolling (we all do it!), explore whether there are potential groups, chats, or forums that you can join that cover a topic that you would like to learn more about. Even if you don’t spend a lot of time sharing your thoughts or opinions there, just absorbing the information given by others could give your learning the boost you’re looking for.

Ask your employer for advice

Sometimes, expanding your knowledge doesn’t necessarily mean you’re looking to train in a completely new area – it could be that you’re looking to simply broaden your current expertise.

If this is the case, then you may not need to squeeze extra learning in outside of the working day. It might be something that your employer can help you do within the usual 9 to 5 routine. Explore potential opportunities with your line manager or team leader and put together a case for the opportunity to take up additional training courses; how will it benefit both you and the business you work for? The likelihood will be that your employer will be happy to support you as you show motivation, drive and initiative.

There’s no limit to learning. Whether you’re 21 or 71, there’s always time to pick up a new interest, begin another hobby or get some further experience under your belt.

Thanks Jo!

Exeter Works is here to help you. If you’re looking for an adult learning opportunity, or help finding that next job, get in touch with our advisers today on