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Keeping your skills up to date

Ways to keep your professional skills and knowledge up to scratch, while on a career break.

Image of a woman using a laptop sitting at the base of a tree

Perhaps you are taking a career break to raise your children, care for an elderly relative or focus on your personal or professional development. Whatever the reason, there are a few ways that you can keep connected with your industry, hone your skills and broaden your experience, so that you are prepared when the time comes to return to work.

1. Volunteer

If you have some spare time on your hands, seek out a voluntary role within engineering and technology. There are various opportunities for ambassadors in schools or communities, promoting maths, science and technology subjects, as well as the engineering profession itself.

Serving as a volunteer is great for boosting your confidence, getting out and about and maintaining a connection with your profession. You will also be helping to increase understanding of engineering amongst young people – so that they might be inspired to follow in your footsteps!

2. Expand and enhance your networks

Building personal contacts is beneficial if you want to enhance your career progression and gain a sense of support.  

Consider joining a group with a passion for engineering and technology. An internet search for local groups is the best place to start. If you are IET member, you might want to check out one of our Local Networks, which brings engineers and technicians together to network, share knowledge and promote engineering to the wider community.

Alternatively, you could join an online community. The IET's Engineering Communities platform allows you to connect with like-minded individuals, get involved with a variety of initiatives and serve as a role model to others. You can share ideas, volunteer, stay connected to the industry and join discussions. With the ability to talk to engineers around the world, you may find someone in a similar situation to yourself who is willing to share their experiences, or perhaps even someone that could benefit from your expertise!

The IET Women’s Network is a great example of a thriving online community. With over 1000 members; you’ll never be short of people to connect with!

3. Broaden your knowledge

Why not use your career break as an opportunity to broaden your knowledge? You can keep up to date with developments in your sector and the wider industry, or read up on new areas of interest to you.

The IET has a huge range of resources for you to immerse yourself in - case studies, articles, white papers, newsletters and books.

4. Become professionally registered

If professional registration is still on your to-do list, now might be the time to start working on it. Professional registration is an important milestone for any engineer or technician. It establishes your skills and experience, and demonstrates to your peers and employers that you are committed to developing your competences and adhering to professional standards.

5. Mentoring Support

One way to keep on top of your professional development is to make yourself accountable to someone – i.e. get a mentor. Find a colleague or contact within the industry who is willing to discuss your professional development goals and aspirations.

If you are a member and are working towards professional registration, you can make use of the IET mentoring service. Or if you’ve been there and done all that, you could volunteer to help other engineers prepare for professional registration.

6. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities

There are many other activities that you can engage in, which will help you to maintain and develop essential skills and knowledge. Get some ideas from our IET CPD directory.

7. Become an IET member at a reduced rate

Those in special circumstances may be able to receive IET membership at a reduced rate. If you wish to apply for membership for a reduced fee, please contact Membership Services.

If you are already an IET member on a full IET standard rate, check to see if you are eligible for a reduced subscription.