Carers UK has launched a free programme to help unpaid carers boost their confidence and skills.
A spokesman for the charity said the interactive e-learning programme, Learning for Living, will help carers develop greater understanding of the unique skills and knowledge they apply on a day-to-day basis in their caring role and will teach them they can transfer these skills to the workplace.
Previous research by the charity shows 2.6m people have given up their job to care unpaid for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.
The aim of the e-learning programme is to boost confidence amongst unpaid carers, who regularly carry out complex tasks, manage finances and communicate in a range of situations, but often underestimate the value of these skills when job searching or looking at changing roles.
Madeleine Starr MBE, director of Business Development and Innovation at Carers UK, said:
‘Whatever your responsibilities as a carer, looking after someone requires a unique skillset that is too often undervalued when compared with skills gained through training or employment.
‘Many carers have to change their working hours or even give up work to care so looking for a new job can be daunting. We hope Learning for Living will help carers recognise their expertise and use it to review their job role, return to work, take up new opportunities or participate in the community.
‘Returning to work benefits carers but also employers who are increasingly struggling with skills gaps.
‘Programmes supporting carers going back to work have been effective but the government should now provide dedicated funding for those who face unique challenges returning after caring for an older, sick or disabled relative.’
Over the course of five interactive modules, carers explore the specific techniques they use to learn and communicate, as well as ways to develop assertiveness and confidence. The programme takes approximately two hours to complete.
Carers completing Learning for Living receive a digital badge that they can use to document their learning and shape their career development and employers can recognise as part of professional development.
Carer Joanie, an unpaid carer who completed the programme, said: ‘I think going through this process would definitely make carers feel good about the skills and abilities they have acquired during their caring ‘careers’.
‘One of the biggest challenges is convincing others that while you have been caring for say 10 years, you have been developing and exercising skills during this period. Learning for Living is very impressive and thorough and useful and fun.’
Based on a programme developed by City & Guilds with Carers UK, this edition of Learning for Living was funded by the Department for Health and Social Care and developed with the insight of carers who fed back on the content and outcomes of the learning.
Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage said:
‘Unpaid carers provide an incredible contribution to our health and care system but too many feel their career, or their opportunity to work at all, have been affected. But I’ve seen for myself how much employers really value the breadth of skills that carers can contribute.
‘Learning for Living will help carers develop a better understanding of their transferable skills – from managing finances to communicating in a range of situations.
‘Carers will be able to gain a digital badge that they can use to document their learning and shape their career development and employers can recognise as part of professional development.
‘The development of this programme has been an essential part of our Carer’s Action Plan to maintain and support unpaid carers to return to employment.
Click here to access the programme.
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