From education to employment



NEWCASTLE College has reported an increase in adult learners exploring its courses since the turn of the year, with the majority considering qualifications in healthcare.

Pursuing a career ambition was identified as one of the top five New Year’s resolutions for 2023 for UK adults. North East adults look to be embracing this as Newcastle College reports that applications have increased across its adult courses portfolio. Since opening applications in September, nearly 60 per cent of the total applicants to undertake adult courses this year or next were made between 1st – 25th January, showing that 2023 could be the year of new skills in the region. This trend for adults looking to update their skillset is mirrored across the UK, with Google searches for ‘free adult courses’ peaking in early January.


Source: Google Trends – searches for ‘free adult courses’

30 per cent of the total applicants are looking at entering the healthcare sector, more than any of the other sectors available, with the most popular courses being healthcare courses in nursing and midwifery and counselling. This trend is at odds with the decline in nursing applications that has been reported in higher education.

Scott Bullock, Principal at Newcastle College, said:

“We’re really encouraged by this recent increase in enthusiasm for adult learning. An important part of our strategy is to align with local priorities and emerging sectors to ensure that we can help to region to thrive. We do this through industry and community partnerships, such as our work with the North East LEP. We want to give people in the North East the best chance to develop their skills and broaden their opportunities. Not everyone is able to commit to full-time study, which is why we’re proud to offer a range of part-time and short courses that help people to strengthen their CV while continuing to work or meet their other commitments. By offering this, we hope this can help people boost their income through new opportunities or promotions and support them with the increased cost of living.”

Other popular areas for study are engineering, digital technologies and hair and beauty. Newcastle College also offers a range of free courses to support adults to develop additional skills that appeal to employers such as CV preparation, equality and diversity, mental health awareness and English and maths.

Scott added: “Adult education isn’t just about career advancement and financial stability. It also has a profound impact on our mental and physical health. Studies have shown that lifelong learning can improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and even increase lifespan. It’s a way to keep our minds active and engaged, to stay curious and open to new ideas, and to continue growing as individuals. Education is the key to unlocking our potential and achieving our goals, and it’s never too late to learn. Adult education is an essential aspect of personal and professional growth. It empowers us to adapt to a rapidly changing world, to pursue our passions, and to make a difference in the lives of others.”

A selection of free, full-time courses are available as part of the government’s Free Courses for Jobs initiative. This includes a Level 3 qualification in subjects from accounting to health care.

For more information about adult courses at Newcastle College, visit

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