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Sponsored Training

Learn on the job and get paid for it

Ten years ago, a worldwide survey in The Economist concluded that employers required four significant qualities from any new recruits: that they should be literate, numerate, adaptable and trainable. Since then, though methods of business have advanced by light-years, these key capabilities continue to be the most sought-after.

Do it our way

Literacy and numeracy are obviously essential. But adaptability and trainability reflect the growing preference that new staff should develop according to a company's way of doing things, in particularly techniques, procedures and culture. They're prepared to pay for it too - because it provides the one thing academic training can't - hands-on experience.

As a result, sponsored training or "thick sandwich courses" - involving industry placement as part of a three or four year degree - are increasingly popular. Currently the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) lists 642 engineering courses with a sandwich option, all leading to an almost certain job offer - and a life-saving alternative to huge student debt.

Earn while you learn

Placements aren't restricted to vocational degrees either. More than 61 law courses offer a sandwich year - and so do 58 English and 40 sociology courses. You can even do foreign language-based sandwich courses - or get industry placements in history and geography.

Though there is a small fee for your year out on placement, most companies pay a basic salary of £10,000 - £17,000 a year, with your Uni spelling out how many weeks your placement is going to be. Expect to work a full year if you want to be paid, though don't count on it for all placement courses.

Get paid to get experience

The experience to be gained is sometimes spectacular, on top of the savings to be made. A degree in politics and parliamentary studies from Leeds for example opens up an unrivalled six months in the House of Commons helping an MP, plus six months with a US congressman in Washington DC! But it's not all gravy. Though politicians cover the cost of your travel, funding the rest of the year is up to you.

Get paid to start again

Companies seem ready to pay for mid-career changes too - and so does the government. Jumping from one career to another is no longer as scorned as it used to be - in fact, many employers welcome the opportunity to introduce fresh thinking from experienced professionals in another field. Career changes, as long as they are not too frequent, look good on a CV, demonstrating ambitious thinking and forward movement.

Get paid for existing skills

Many of your skills are transferable from one career to another too, so that your target employer is not so much paying for a complete beginner as guiding a proven performer into a new discipline. Nearly all organisations share a respect and admiration for skills such as leadership and management, experience of working as a team, a developed communication reflex, an understanding of problem-solving and a commitment to time management and self organisation.

Get paid for asking

How do you get your prospective new employer to pay? Simply ask! As long as you have something positive to bring to the bargaining table, most employers will listen - and be impressed by your negotiating powers. For example, take any form of retail experience. If you can demonstrate effective customer-facing skills, nearly every kind of business involved in selling will open doors for you.

Get paid to change your luck

You can even get paid when luck turns against you, or seems to. So it might help to remember that most of the time as one door closes, another opens. Paid retraining is frequently an employer's way to soften the blow of impending redundancies or an unwanted change of location to the other end of the country. With a new skill in your repertoire and a new career direction, your income is assured and so is your future. Good luck with it!