using your extra lockdown hours to upskill yourself!

During the lockdown you may notice a bit of a decline in business, which is unfortunately a reality we’ve all had to deal with. It’s important to look on the bright side and be thankful that you have steady employment, and think of downtime as an opportunity to sharpen your skills! While the situation may be out of your control, there are things you can be doing to upskill yourself in preparation for when things go back to normal. If your employer knows you’ve taken the time to improve yourself instead of wasting time, you can take on additional responsibilities in your position and even improve your chances of a promotion.

Many of these free online resources will also look good on your CV. Training does not always have to be a formal certification with an exam – 90% of what recruiters are looking for is that you are willing to put in effort. If you can show that you’ve taken free courses, and put in your own time to improve yourself and your career, you are far ahead of many job seekers out there.

Let’s talk about a few free, easy ways to sharpen your skills and even teach yourself an entirely new skill altogether.

“Learn at your own pace, with flexible and personalised training courses designed to build your confidence and help you thrive.” Google Digital Garage offers a great free online platform to learn today’s most in-demand skills in digital marketing, data and technology. The majority of the courses are free, and approved by industry experts, top entrepreneurs and some of the world’s leading employers; and the interface is as easy as you can expect from anything offered by Google.

Khan Academy is a nonprofit with the mission to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. A multitude of online courses are offered, and Khan Academy’s resources to learn programming have become especially popular over the last few years. If you have kids, many subjects are offered all the way from 1st grade to Matric, which means your kids can stay sharp while they’re preparing to return to classes.

This website allows you to earn a diploma online with hands-on projects and weekly one-on-one mentorship sessions with a dedicated professional in your field. You can learn anything from building webpages and learning Python or JavaScript to speaking in public and improving your presentation skills. Courses can be selected based on varying lengths of time to complete them and their level of difficulty, and there’s something for everyone.

Duolingo offers a fun and engaging way to learn an additional language. Their engaging, free, bite-size lessons feel more like a game than a textbook, but it is based on a methodology proven to foster long-term retention, and a curriculum aligned to an international standard. Duolingo offers both in-browser learning and a free mobile application. The Duolingo mascot, an owl, can be notoriously mean when you miss a lesson, so make sure you don’t, or you’ll be in for a serious guilt trip. Looks like you forgot your Spanish lessons again. You know what happens now!

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content – it is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. It’s great because it allows free access to course content by one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and you can find course content on practically any topic you can imagine.

Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. 

  • eBooks and Academic Journals.

There are several free resources online that give you access to millions of eBooks and Academic Journals that can aid you in learning basically any skill you can think of. A few examples are Project Gutenberg, Planet eBook, Google Books, The Free Library, Wikibooks and Scribd (which offers a 30 day free trial) but there are many, many others for you to explore.

These are just a few ways to put your time to good use and sharpen your skills, but there are hundreds of thousands of websites offering free resources. If you’re willing to put in the time and be patient, you can teach yourself practically anything online. Why not?

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