We would all like to upskill but studying is often prohibitively expensive. Fortunately for those who love learning, it is possible to track down free courses in just about anything – you just have to know where to look.
Don’t be put off by the fact that many of these courses do not offer an official qualification. By doing the coursework you will expand your knowledge and gain relevant workplace skills – and all for free!
EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider and online learning platform. It hosts free courses from universities like Harvard, Berkley, MIT and, from the end of this year, Wits. These courses, which range from architecture and psychology to business management and information technology, often include tutorial videos, online textbooks and online discussion forums where you can chat to other students.
Although EdX provides you with an Honour Code certificate to verify that you have completed the course, in most cases you will not receive a credit from the actual university.
Coursera is similar to EdX, offering courses from leading global learning institutions, but it also offers the option to upgrade your free course to a “signature track” for $30 to $100 (R360 to R1 206). This means you receive the official certification for the course from a university. Courses run from four to ten weeks long, with one to two hours of video lectures a week, supported by quizzes, exercises and sometimes a final project or exam.
You can also complete the courses on demand, which means that you finish in your own time.
You can register and sign up to complete any of Regenesys’s business degrees and courses, ranging from entrepreneurship to economics to a full MBA, for free. The courses are supported by videos, study guides, eBooks, webinars, academic articles and technical support.
As with Coursera, you’ll have to apply and pay to attain the accredited qualification (which can be a hefty R95 000 annual fee in the case of an MBA, or R12 030 for each module of a degree).
Recruitment services company Manpower allows candidates who have registered on their site and been interviewed by a consultant to complete various courses in the first month after registration.
These courses range from the basics of Microsoft Word and Excel to communications skills, telecommunications basics and project management, and can be completed online from anywhere. Candidates who are placed in a job can carry out the skills training for a further six months.
Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) were established by the government to oversee training standards and implementation for employed and unemployed South Africans. If you are currently employed, your employer should be paying a training levy to the relevant SETA, which they are able to claim back if they train you. So find out from your HR department what courses you could take to support you in developing your career.
If you are unemployed, you can still register with the relevant SETA and apply for free learnerships in your field. These positions are limited, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll be accepted, but it’s still worth applying for these excellent learning opportunities.
Many large organisations offer training courses to applicants who are interested in working in that particular industry. The courses are often free, but the candidates are then required to work for the organisation to pay back the investment. This can be a very good way to establish yourself in a specific field.
For example, you could launch a career in aviation with South African Airways technical training, or start working at a bank through the Standard Bank Banking Skills Academy.
People just love to share knowledge on social media. You can search on YouTube or Vimeo for tutorials or lectures in just about any area of interest that you have – from flower arrangement right up to academic courses at leading universities.
It is possible to train yourself in specific proficiencies – for example video editing or computer coding – from entry level right up to expert just by watching YouTube. The really good news is that professions like those often only require that you have the knowledge – not that that you have an official qualification.
With the wealth of training opportunities offered for free online and by businesses, it is possible to grow your skills set and develop your career – all it takes is time and commitment. Search for the educational opportunity of your choice right away, and who knows what you could have learnt by this time next year?
Financial education is the key to your financial freedom. The Truth About Money, a 1Life initiative, offers you access to a free digital financial education course that you can complete at your own pace at any Boston City Campus nationwide. Apply today.