Does your work skillset need a brushup? Free online training courses should be on your short list of educational options.
What's more important - a college degree or an up-to-date skillset? If you said "skills", you're in the majority. According to a poll cited on TheAtlantic.com, technology (85%), ongoing skill training (78%) and good people skills (79%) were listed as very important. Surprisingly, only 53% of respondents said a four-year degree was 'very important' to career success.
Sure, there is some overlap here - pick the right major, and you can also pick up some mighty valuable skills as you go through college. But what if your early enthusiasm for pointillism led you to choose art history over database architecture as your career focus? Or what if your college days, like a home run, are long long gone? Are you doomed?
Not at all. Thanks to numerous initiatives from corporations and classrooms, acquiring in-demand skills doesn’t have to cost you a cent. Here’s how it works.
Exploring the World of Free Online Training
There’s a virtual world (excuse the pun) of free and almost-free online training available. Some of it is self-paced; other providers offer courses with a set schedule. Most of it can at least be completed for free, although there’s a nominal fee for a verified certificate upon completion; others charge a relatively small amount (commonly about $50) per course. Considering that even a career diploma will set you back thousands of dollars, that’s a steal.
Basically, there are three types of providers for this type of education:
Big companies, like Microsoft and Google, who provide free training to anyone willing to invest the time into it. Because their technologies are so in-demand, it’s worth it for them to provide the training.
Employment and job-placement sites, like Aquent. They use it to help people add marketable skills to their resume. It also helps employers meet their need for trained personnel.
Online learning academies, such as EdX, Coursera, and Khan Academy. These sites partner with well-known colleges and universities to offer content to anyone who signs up. In some cases, personal enrichment is the goal - I’ve had my eye on a course dealing with cooking and physics for some time now. In many instances, though, in-demand subjects are offered, such as data analytics, computer programming, and supply chain management.
But wait, I can hear you say. Can’t I just look this stuff up on Google or YouTube and learn it myself? Absolutely. In fact, searching Google is how I got all this information in the first place. Still, these programs offer two huge advantages over a purely DIY approach:
You’re committed to a course, perhaps with a fixed timeline in place for completion. I’ve known instruction books to languish on shelves for years simply because there was no firm ‘finish-by’ date in place.
In many cases, you can get an actual certification or at least a certificate of completion when you pass the final exam on your new skill. Not only is this another great motivator, it also looks fantastic on a resume.
This is Free Online Learning 101. There’s a lot more to discover about it. Why not check out all the options for yourself? Whether you’re looking to brush up your sales skills, solidify your grasp of cybersecurity, or introduce yourself to database administration, you’re sure to find a course that will help. And as always, keep reading Techsperts Talk for IT tips you can use!
Featured image credit: 123rf.com