Free courses for jobs

Explains how to apply for a free level 3 qualification. These courses could help you improve your wage outcomes and job prospects, and gain skills that employers value.

Applies to England

If you’re aged 19 or over, you could access a level 3 qualification for free. This is part of the support available from the government to help you gain the skills you need to get the job you want - whatever your stage of life.

A level 3 qualification is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or A levels.

The qualifications could help you:

  • gain skills that employers value
  • improve your job prospects
  • earn a higher wage

If you’re eligible, you will not have to pay for your level 3 qualification. The government will pay the course fees.

Courses available

Qualifications are currently available in:

  • accounting and finance
  • agriculture
  • building and construction
  • business management
  • childcare and early years
  • digital
  • engineering
  • environmental conservation
  • health and social care
  • horticulture and forestry
  • hospitality and catering
  • manufacturing technologies
  • mathematics and statistics
  • medicine and dentistry
  • public services
  • science
  • teaching and lecturing
  • transportation operations and maintenance
  • warehousing and distribution


You can get a free level 3 qualification if you:

  • are 19 or over and do not already have a level 3 qualification
  • already have a level 3 qualification or higher, but earn below the low wage threshold of £22,308 (the threshold of £22,308 is an annual gross salary based on the National Living Wage 2024)
  • already have a level 3 qualification or higher but are unemployed

In some areas, there may be a slightly different low wage threshold. Check with your local training provider to find out the low wage threshold in your area.

If you’re eligible, visit the National Careers Service course finder to find a suitable course near you.

How to apply

If you’re eligible, you will not have to pay for your level 3 qualification. The government will pay the course fees.

  1. Use the National Careers Service course finder to see which courses are available for free in your local area or online. You can set the distance you are willing to travel. Some of these qualifications are available to study online or part-time.

  2. Contact the college or training provider. You can confirm they offer the qualification you’re interested in, check the admissions criteria and apply for the course in the normal way.

  3. If you’re accepted onto the course, you will not have to pay a course fee. You may also be able to get help to pay for childcare, travel and other costs.

Alternatively, you can search for courses on your local college’s or provider’s website. You can view the full list of providers offering free places for level 3 qualifications.

Get help with careers and training

If you’re 19 to 23 years old, you could also access additional qualifications for free. The National Careers Service offers free and impartial advice to help with decisions about careers, training courses and work.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, you can apply for one of these free courses, provided it will improve your chances of securing work. Many Universal Credit claimants can currently take full-time training for up to 16 weeks and continue to claim benefit. Your local Jobcentre Plus can offer further guidance about this and help to identify the learning that works for you.

If you’re not eligible for this offer, Advanced Learner Loans are available to help you cover the costs of learning, which you pay back when you are earning over a certain amount.

You can also find out more about other learning opportunities and how the government is supporting you to gain skills for life, whatever stage of your career you are at.

Information for providers and employers

Training providers can view the full list of qualifications included in this offer by selecting ‘Level 3 Free Courses for Jobs’ in the qualifications search service.

Information is available for employers about training and employment schemes.

Published 1 April 2021
Last updated 13 May 2024 + show all updates
  1. Updated the 'Eligibility' section with the low wage threshold for 2024.

  2. Updated to reflect changes to the national minimum wage.

  3. The page has been updated to make it clearer that you can use the National Careers Service course finder to find a suitable free level 3 qualification.

  4. Removed content relating to Skills Bootcamps.

  5. Updated the ‘Free qualifications for adults’ and ‘Skills Bootcamps’ eligibility sections, and updated information about eligibility for adults who claim Universal Credit.

  6. Updated the information on the National Living Wage in the 'Free qualifications for adults' section and the eligibility in the 'Skills Bootcamps' section.

  7. Updated the information about adults who claim Universal Credit. Also updated the 'Free qualifications for adults' eligibility section to confirm that from April 2022, any adult in England earning under the National Living Wage will also be able to access these qualifications for free, regardless of their prior qualification level.

  8. Added information to confirm that Skills Bootcamps are quality assured by Ofsted and updated Skills Bootcamps subjects available to reflect the range of courses available.

  9. Removed the information about the National Skills Fund consultation as the consultation has now closed.

  10. Added a link to the National Careers Service course finder which you can use to see which courses are available for free in your local area or online.

  11. Added 'hospitality and catering' to the list of subjects available and updated 'eligibility' and 'how to apply' sections.

  12. We have added information about Skills Bootcamps including details on how to apply and a link to the list of available Skills Bootcamps. We have also added a link to our consultation on the National Skills Fund.

  13. Added information about a temporary extension to the length of time people can undertake training to develop work-related skills and qualifications while still receiving Universal Credit.

  14. First published.