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It’s never too late to learn new skills

7 minute read

Our culture sometimes gives the impression that studying and learning is for people in their teens and twenties. And that in our fifties and beyond we should be settled into our careers. Or heading into retirement, looking after the grandchildren and taking up flower arranging, or gardening.

However, our minds function best when they stay active. Research has found that lifelong learning can even help to prevent cognitive decline, and provides other benefits like improving mental health, and expanding your social life.

With the advance of the internet there has been an explosion of online offerings to feed our brain cells. This means that not only can you study in person, you can study from the comfort of your own home these days.

And whilst water colour classes or yoga are excellent activities for all the reasons above (mental health, social life), it’s in pushing your brain to really learn new things that the big benefits lie. And yes, you can do it later in life – in fact it’s a fantastic time to do it! Whether it’s to boost your skillset to advance or change career, or just explore your interests as more free time opens up, it is never too late to learn something new.

Here are some of the best resources for continuing your learning journey.


Reed Courses
The employment agency Reed has a wide variety of over 75,000 courses for people to acquire skills and qualifications to develop or change their career. This website has everything from courses in counselling, coding, mental first aid and childcare. Whatever field you work in, or would like to transition to, there is something to suit. It is possible to obtain qualifications such as diploma, NVQ and HND. Some courses are even free.

LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn has become much more than just a website for displaying your employment experience, and is now a bustling hub of learning opportunities. At LinkedIn learning you can boost your CV by developing vocational skills in business, tech and creativity. There are also courses on the so-called soft skills, such as ‘how to cultivate a growth mindset’ or ‘communication skills’.


Future Learn
Future Learn is an online platform that offers everything from full degree courses to shorter courses of three or four weeks. They partner with over 200 institutions in the UK and around the world. For a monthly or yearly fee you can explore as many of the short courses as you like, in major university subject areas such as history, languages literature, IT, psychology and more.

This is a great resource if you want university level depth, but the opportunity to dip your toe in, and explore when it suits. There are some really unique offerings such as a four-week course to learn Mandarin and explore the culture of Taiwan, or a course in the development of the Italian language from Dante to the present day.

Open University
The Open University is of course a well-established institution for distance learning. If you are looking to gain a degree or masters, this is the place for you, although to enter a higher education undergraduate degree or post graduate course you will need to have some academic background. The OU helpfully also offers one-year access courses though, and this is likely to be enough to make that next step. If the full degree courses are not really for you, there are also options to study individual modules that pique your interest, where you can gain ‘micro-credentials’ in just 12 weeks of study.

Personal Interest

U3A is a UK-wide movement of locally-run interest groups that provide in-person opportunities to come together to learn for fun. It is aimed at those who are no longer in full-time employment. There are over 1,000 local groups across the UK with 400,000 members, so it’s perfect if you want the added bonus of meeting in real life. There are a wide variety of topics and also online options, so location doesn’t have to be a limiting factor if you want to explore something more niche.

Rest Less
Rest Less is a fast-growing digital community with courses to explore for personal interest or for boosting your employability. There’s lots to choose from here including languages, computer skills and creativity. If you fancy a change in career one of their short courses could be the start of something new whether it’s TEFL teaching, bookkeeping, or even dog walking.

City Lit
City Lit is based in London and offers both online and in-person opportunities to study art and design, wellbeing, languages, and the performing arts, amongst other subjects. Whether it’s a personal passion to develop your acting skills, or to learn about how nutrition or herbs can improve your mental and physical health, there are many different offerings.

Other in-person options

To explore more where you are check out your local universities and colleges which may offer evening or weekend classes in subjects such as counselling, health and social care, languages and more. Local libraries and community centres may have noticeboards with upcoming workshops and courses.

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