Skills for Life and Work

What is Skills for Life and Work?

Skills for Life and Work is a vocational training programme, specifically created for school leavers. This programme provides post-GCSE students with NVQ qualifications and training in a vocational area of their choice, alongside essential skills, personal development and employability programmes.

With 15 different subject areas to study at People 1st,  there really is something for everyone.

Why choose vocational training?

Vocational training is an amazing way to learn and allows you to gain practical workplace experience so that you can enter and progress in your chosen trade, profession or occupation.

As well as your qualifications, you will get the skills, knowledge and confidence required for the world of work and our students really love this blended learning.

The Skills for Life and Work programme is all about giving you the space to learn new skills and grow as a person. This two year course will help equip you with the tools and the confidence to either progress straight to work afterwards or perhaps into higher education- the great thing is that it opens up the door to lots of options!

You’ll gain qualifications along the way, get lots of practical experience, learn lots of new skills and meet new friends.

Programme overview:

Students spend a minimum of one day a week learning the practical skills of their chosen area, a few days are spent on the theory side as well as self-development, careers advice and guidance and other amazing life skills that will help you greatly in the future. Once you are ready, you can also avail of time spent each week in a work placement.  Many of our students tell us that they love their work placements, as they learn so much and it’s great for their CV.

By participating in this programme you will:

  • gain accredited qualifications from a wide range of courses, including essential skills of Maths/English and ICT
  • earn while you learn! £40 weekly allowance, plus the opportunity to earn student bonuses of up to £360 during the training
  • get personalised advice, guidance and careers support from our  friendly and helpful tutors and student support teams
  • get help and financial support towards travel expenses, paid holidays and childcare costs
  • avail of student discounts from retailers and establishments, with your NUS student card.

Where can you study?

Conor Daly

Student Support Officer

Belfast South,

Suite 1 Ormeau House,
91-97 Ormeau Rd

Padraig Nugent

Student Support Officer

Belfast West

Dairy Farm Centre,
Stewartstown Rd
Dunmurry, Belfast
BT17 0AW

Tomás Griffin

Student Support Officer


42-44 Railway Street,
BT28 1XP

Sarah Wylie

Student Support Officer


62-64 High Street,
Lurgan, Craigavon
BT66 8BB

Jason McVeigh

Student Support Officer


12 John Mitchel Place,
BT34 2BP

Ciaran McGeown

Student Support Officer


54-55 William Street,
Portadown, Craigavon
BT62 3NX

Why choose People 1st?

People 1st have been training school leavers for over 25 years and the Skills for Life and Work programme provides you with a range of qualifications, and training in a vocational area of your choice. We have created amazing in-house facilities for our students and we offer a variety of unique learning environments including fully operational barbering and hair salons, beauty academy, catering kitchen, and construction academy for the more practical and hands on side of these particular courses.

As a student you will really enjoy training with us;  we are a small, award-winning training provider and we take pride in giving all our students one-to-one support and mentoring. Our classes are small and are taught by kind and supportive tutors, and we enjoy lots of fun days out with the team, so you will really settle in fast!

We know too well that the jump from school to the workplace can be a tough move and many are nervous about this, but we are here to bridge that gap and help you develop! Because of our smaller classes and the way we operate, students transition very well to People 1st – you will meet new friends, learn so many new things, gain confidence and really just enjoy learning in a relaxed but structured environment. It is not only about learning a new vocation with us, it’s about growing as a person. 


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We have a team of specialist Student Support Officers in each of our 6 branches – Belfast South, Belfast West, Lisburn, Lurgan, Newry and Portadown. They are there to help with careers guidance, advice and mentorship. They are experienced members of the team and they will be able to chat you through the different courses on offer and answer any questions you may have. 

Please feel free to contact your nearest branch using the information above- give them a call during office hours or email them. Sometimes it’s best to have a quick chat then we can send you out further information. If you prefer, see our contact page where you can request a call back.

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The courses normally commence in the first week of September, and for most students it takes around two years to get their qualification. The classes run Monday to Friday and you will also get paid holidays throughout the year including a full two weeks off in July.

If you have missed our normal start date, then please get in touch with our team and we can see if we can find you a place at People 1st.

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After signing up you will be given a weekly timetable with your various classes, including time in your vocational area, practical lessons and other personal development and employability sessions. You may also have essential skills classes in English, Maths and ICT.

We also do lots of nice activities like team building and trips out to help you have fun while you are learning! We will set up a placement for you, where you get to work in a local business linked to your vocational course, and learn lots of great work-life skills to support you when you are ready to move onto into employment.

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We offer the Skills for Life and Work at 6 different People 1st branches across NI. We have two branches in Belfast- one on the Ormeau Road and one in West Belfast. We also have branches in the town centres of Lisburn, Lurgan, Newry and Portadown. All branches are very accessible via public transport and easy to find. Inside each branch is where you will spend most of your time, studying towards gaining your qualifications with our team of friendly and supportive tutors.

Depending on which vocational area you study you will attend another one of our branches; all transport to and from your practical classes is provided free of charge by People 1st.

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If you are aged 16-17 years you can join Skills for Life and Work.  If you have a disability you can join up to 22 years of age. If you have an in-care background, you can join up to 24 years of age.

The Careers Service can provide full details on this.

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The great thing is that the qualifications, experience and skills that you get from this course opens up a lot of options for what to do next.

You can progress to an Apprenticeship, continuing on with People 1st to gain a higher level of NVQ, and also gain further experience in a work-based environment. This can be a fantastic way to progress up the career ladder and is a fantastic choice for many. 

You can also proceed straight into employment or go on to further education.

Hear from our Students

“People 1st is the absolute best. I’ll cry when I have to leave this place, it’s a really good tech and also good tutors… very friendly … the best bunch of people”
Shannon, Childcare Student,
People 1st Belfast West.

”I like the smaller classes as you get more attention, learn faster and get better quality training. The tutors really invest in you. I’m 100% more confident since I joined People 1st.”
Bruno, Catering Student,
People 1st Portadown.

“My favourite part is the weekly practical day at the ‘People 1st Construction Training Academy’. The tutors teach us all the best joinery techniques and how to use the tools properly. They are really nice and speak to you like you are an adult, not a child.”
Sean, Joinery Student,
People 1st Lurgan.

“I am almost finished my barbering course and it has given me so many new skills and confidence to go to work now. Before I started I was really nervous and afraid I wouldn’t be any good. I’d tell anyone at home thinking about it to just go for it, you will not look back!”
Jude, Barbering Student,
People 1st Belfast South.

Our Award-Winning Students!

Funded by
Benefits include:
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Earn £40 per week

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Travel expenses

Student bonuses

Student Card

Help towards childcare costs

Paid holidays

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Free vocational kits

Approved centre for