Whether you just have an interest you want to learn more about, or whether you want to upskill to further your career prospects, there are millions of training providers out there. Some of them will charge a small fortune, but some provide some really good quality free learning. If you want something specific (like a law degree) let’s be honest, you are going to have to pay, or find someone who will pay for you (like an employer) but for many things there are loads of great resources online which you can learn from for free. I’m going to share a few of my favourites with you!
OpenLearn is the free online learning form the Open University. They have a wide variety of courses, from maths, languages, the sciences and the arts. There are a wide variety of levels as well and they also have some great life and work skills courses. I have done some courses on there for my own interest, but I’m also working through one now which is relevant for my job. The vast majority of the courses will offer a statement of participation at the end – which is great for evidencing CPD (continuous professional development) if your role requires it.
FutureLearn also offer a wide variety of courses, some are very career specific (e.g. the course on “Organ Donation: The essentials for healthcare professional” but there is a real mix. They also include business skills, music and languages and are definitely worth a browse.
EDX bring you courses written by or accredited by top Universities from across the globe, covering a wide range as well. There are many that are free, however they may charge you if you require a certified certificate at the end. I have done some courses through these guys and they are really good – I just didn’t have enough time to commit to it fully unfortunately, but I still enjoyed the experience.
EMC are a training arm of DELL the computer company. I’ll be honest – I don’t understand most of the course titles let alone the description, but as an IT professional looking to upskill I’ve been told the content is pretty good and the ones on this page are free to access.
MOOCS are Massive Online Open Courses and a lot of Universities are offering them now (University of Southampton and University of Derby are just two of the ones that I know that people have used. They are definitely worth looking in to and the nature of being “Open” should mean they are free.
Other top tips
Some local authorities have adult learning centres or teams, and depending on your financial status and whether you are on benefits you may be able to get a discount or even access them for free so it’s worth looking in to.
Libraries are awesome! With the advent of ebooks and online resources, I think a lot of people take them for granted or even ignore them, however they are still a great source of information and opportunities. Whether you pop down and browse through a reference book, or take some home to work on in your own time – don’t forget they are there!
Work based training is only applicable if you are in work, but if you are, find out what the opportunities are for learning and development through them. My current employer has loads of courses run in house and you can book through the intranet.
Have you thought about an apprenticeship? I am actually an apprentice and am being paid a proper salary to also study. Gone are the days when apprenticeships were about a 17 year old mechanic – I’m an apprentice Data Analyst! Yes the salary might be a cut from what you are on now, but if you want to retrain or grow a different skills set, it might be worth the short term hit as being paid to study is a brilliant opportunity!