Returning to work after children: considering retraining


woman on laptop with child in backgroundWhen returning to work after children, a lot of people use this as an opportunity to pursue a career that gives them more flexibility and meets their priorities. Often this will involve the need to re-train. It is worth noting that retraining doesn’t have to mean abandoning the skills and experience you’ve acquired. It’s a way to enhance your skillset and open up more opportunities.

Work after children

When you are unclear about what your options are when returning to work after children, it is easy to find yourself aimlessly trawling through recruitment sites and feeling disappointed when you don’t find anything that catches your eye or reflects your experience. Evaluating your current situation and where you want to get to is a great place to start. Take a step back and ask yourself some of the following questions.

  • What are my priorities? Identifying your career priorities is essential in order to become more focussed on your long term objectives. Think about what is important to you in a career – e.g. flexibility, progression, challenge.
  • What skills do I enjoy the most? How do I want to use these skills?
  • What are my interests and can I make these into a career? Consider the things you have done while you haven’t been working e.g. charity work.
  • What steps do I need to take to pursue this career?

Researching roles and required qualifications

There are a number of things you can do to research what qualifications and training are required in different careers.

  • The National Careers Service website These role profiles also give advice around what training you will need to do in order to begin your new career, the salary to expect and what the job roles include.
  • Career Guidance books in your local library also highlight what types of training and experience are necessary to do a particular role.
  • Visit job boards to research jobs, have a look at job descriptions and the specifications that employers require for the types of roles you are interested in.
  • Ask contacts, family, and friends, including other parents. It is easy to forget that those people you meet with on a day to day basis maybe really useful to talk to about your future aims and goals. Talk to other parents and ask for advice and guidance. They may have worked in the environments that are of interest to you, or have their own network of contacts they can put you in touch with. I have worked with many parents, who over the years have secured new employment opportunities through talking and networking with other parents. This has been achieved through attending playgroups, children’s parties and even conversations at the school gates. Every conversation you have is a great opportunity to obtain information.


Another popular option is exploring self-employment. Do you have a hobby or an interest that you could make money from? Would this enable you to spend more time with your children but also earn you a living wage? Think carefully about this option; if you do your hobby purely to escape or as something that gets you away from your “day job” you may end up losing what you enjoy about it.

Is there a gap in the market that you could explore? Have you found yourself looking for a product or service that doesn’t exist?  Do you have a talent that could be a business opportunity? A client of mine started making birthday cakes for other mums as she was renowned for her baking. It was something that she really enjoyed and was a great money making opportunity. Word of mouth and positive feedback gave her lots of business which she has fit in and around childcare.

My advice would be to get in touch with people who have already chosen this option, speak to people and ask for advice; they will be able to give you tips and tell you how they pursued their interests and re-trained.

Where to find courses

Courses are available through a number of channels depending upon what type of route you have chosen.

Useful links – Training providers and resources:

All of these provide a range of courses and information to research your options and help you come to a decision. You can fit your training around your other commitments whether it’s full time, part time, classroom based or distance based learning.  Get in touch with your local college or council, or visit your local university website to find out more about training in your local area.

Funding your training.

Training can be costly, however, there are ways to ease the pressure. If you don’t have the funds, you may be able to apply for a professional and career development loan which is designed for work related learning meaning you could borrow from £300 - £10,000 regardless of your savings or income. Essentially this is a loan that you would not need to pay back until after you have completed your course. For more information about funding options visit

From September 2016 the government will be increasing the number of hours of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours. This will be apply to all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week – available to up to 600,000 families and worth around £5,000 a year.

Retraining to return to work after children might initially be daunting as you venture in a new direction, and can involve an element of risk. However, it could also be the best route to finding new fulfilling opportunities, whilst also ensuring the right work life balance for you.

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