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Updating your skills

It may be difficult to keep up with changes in your industry while on a career break. However, an increasing number of colleges are offering courses to help you return to the workplace equipped with essential skills. Courses can provide guidance and training on areas such as IT and administration, and how to capitalise on the skills developed while away.

Companies are also doing more to help women on maternity leave or longer career breaks to keep in touch, by running in-house programmes. A refresher course can help boost morale as well as updating skills or introducing new ways of working. Discuss options with employers and see if an individual solution can be worked out.

The internet is also an invaluable tool for researching and updating on industry developments, as are trade journals and magazines, allowing you to keep in touch with the trends and issues affecting your particular area.

Coaching sessions are another good idea, either in person or over the telephone.

The City of Westminster College runs courses in computing, IT, business skills and sector-based courses such as accountancy, secretarial and marketing.

The Open University site is another essential resource.

For more information on financing return-to-work refresher courses, visit www.lifelonglearning.co.uk.

For information on personal and professional development, including publications and a list of trainers across the UK, seewww.springboardconsultancy.com.

The National Organisation for Adult Learning, has a list of journals, news on activities across the country, information about funding and a mirror site in Welsh.