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Best sites to upskill while in self-isolation

Beat boredom and enhance your skill set by using self-isolation as an opportunity to upskill.

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Whether you’re interested in learning a new language, chasing a promotion or considering a change of career, upskilling is a great way to boost your confidence while taking strides towards achieving your professional goals in tandem.

If you’re interested in upskilling during self-isolation, scroll on to learn more about the opportunities on offer for Aussies.

How did we pick this list?

Our editorial team selected the upskilling sites on this list based on customer reviews and hands-on use.

Altogether, we compared 35 websites that consistently featured on "best sites to upskill" lists. We then chose categories based on consumer interest, examined hundreds of customer reviews and selected the sites offering a broad range of learning best fitting the criteria of each category.

We only chose upskilling courses available on the Internet and excluded any that were app-only.

More details on methodology below.

Best sites to upskill for free

Due to the demand for free online resources to further your learning or expand your skills base, we’ve decided to break this section down into bite-sized segments. We’ll take you through our chosen sites offering free upskill courses based on the below categories:

  • Accredited courses
  • Non-residents
  • Students

Find the right fit for your future.


Best site to gain accredited qualifications for free: TAFE

Students celebrating

Pros:

  • Hundreds of courses to choose from
  • Gain nationally recognised qualifications to boost your CV
  • Sign up to the newsletter for updates on new courses that may be of interest
  • The online chat service is there to help you get the advice you need

Cons:

  • Only free for Australian residents
  • Not all courses are free

Price:

Free on select courses for Australian residents.

Why we chose it

TAFE offers Australian residents access to an expansive range of accredited courses free of charge and has a Trustpilot rating of 4.4.

All successfully completed courses will earn you a nationally recognised qualification and there are plenty of different sectors to choose from. Whether your career is business- and finance-focused, centres on fashion and creativity, or is more of a hands-on trade, TAFE offers the opportunity to further your knowledge and fast-track or kickstart your career.

The only downside to TAFE really is that you’ll need to be an Australian resident and select one of the free courses to benefit from free accredited learning online.


Best site for non-residents to upskill for free: FutureLearn

Online learning courses

Pros:

  • Provider works with some of Australia’s best learning institutions including Monash, Queensland University of Technology and Deakin University
  • Unlimited subscription available, allowing you access to an unlimited number of courses each year

Cons:

  • Some courses are premium and thus incur a fee. This fee is chargeable on top of an Unlimited subscription fee

Price:

Select courses are free. Premium courses range from GBP£50 to GBP£200. The Unlimited subscription is GBP£199.99 per annum.

Why we chose it

FutureLearn has teamed up with some of the most highly regarded learning institutes in Australia to give us access to fantastic online learning opportunities, many of which are available free of charge.

With plenty of free short courses to study at home, you’ll be able to expand your vocational horizons and further your learning from the safety of your own space.

FutureLearn has a Trustpilot rating of 4.1 and the Unlimited subscription option will open up more opportunities to advance professionally whilst quenching your thirst for knowledge.

The downside here is that not all courses are free and a few of them aren’t included in the Unlimited subscription either.


Best free site for students and teens to upskill online: OpenLearn

Open Learning courses

Pros:

  • Access to three levels of study starting with beginner through to advanced
  • Broad range of subjects spanning a diverse collection of interests
  • Free statement of participation to add to your portfolio
  • More than 1,000 free courses

Cons:

  • UK-based learning provider. Whilst most of the courses will be relevant to Aussie practice, there may be slight differences from the way we conduct trades here to the way they do in the UK

Price:

Free. All courses available on OpenLearn are 100% free.

Why we chose it

OpenLearn is a UK-based online learning platform that allows you to access more than 1,000 different courses free of charge. This site has been created by The Open University and scores an impressive 4.6 out of 5 on Trustpilot based on over 100 reviews.

This provider offers access to online learning spanning health, sports and psychology; education and development; history and the arts; languages; money and business; nature and the environment; science, maths and technology; and society, politics and law. And the best bit? All of the courses are completely free.

The reason we’ve selected this provider as the best site for students and teens looking to upskill online is down to the fact that many school leavers aren’t exactly sure which career path to follow just yet. The diverse catalogue of courses offered by OpenLearn will allow you to try out a few subjects of interest and see which one grips you the most.

The downside? Well, as OpenLearn is based in the UK you may find that some common practices differ from the Aussie way of doing things. This aside though, you’ll be able to get a real grasp of the fundamentals of your chosen area of learning to give you a strong foothold against your competition.


Best site for coding and programming courses: Codecademy

Code academy learning

Pros:

  • Dedicated learning provider
  • You’ll be able to start your coding career from scratch
  • The basic subscription is free
  • Premium subscriptions available for access to more complicated and in-depth learning

Cons:

  • Many of the courses are only available for pro members

Price:

Free or $19.99 per month for a pro membership subscription.

Why we chose it

Codecademy is a US-based online learning site that is dedicated to helping its users learn coding and programming from beginner levels up.

Whether you’re building on your existing skill set or trying your hand at something new, Codecademy can help you reach your career goals quickly and further your learning at the same time. And, with plenty of free courses on offer, this site will allow you to advance your coding and programming knowledge without weighing too heavily on your wallet.

The downside here is that there are a fair few courses that are only available to pro members. Our advice? Try before you buy. Complete some of the free courses and see whether the content is right for your learning journey before signing up for a pro subscription.


Best site for paving your pathway to leadership: AIM

MBA at AIMS

Pros:

  • Features a whole catalogue of leadership- and management-focused courses
  • Live chat service to help you get the advice you need there and then
  • Short courses and lengthier options to help you tailor your learning to your lifestyle and goals

Cons:

  • Fees apply. All AIM courses are chargeable

Price:

Fees vary and are published on the website.

Why we chose it

AIM is a popular learning institute that is used by many of Australia’s most successful businesses to build their teams’ skills. With its wide selection of courses targeted at leadership and management, this provider seemed like the most obvious choice.

At AIM, you’ll be able to build on your existing leadership skills and get the qualities you need to leave your competitors behind. Whether you’ve got a spare couple of hours you want to fill or are looking to spread the length of your learning over a six-month period, you’re sure to find a course that fits your needs for self-improvement here.

Plus, AIM doesn’t just cater to those looking to build on their leadership and management skills. There’s a fantastic range of courses spanning an impressive collection of sectors to explore too.

The one negative to AIM is that all courses are chargeable. If you’re looking to upskill on a strict budget, you may need to consider looking at an alternative provider.


Best site to upskill your creativity: CreativeLive

Student learning with CreativeLive

Pros:

  • Classes hosted by 700+ master creators
  • Learning solutions to help with all areas of creativity
  • Start learning for free
  • Unlimited access subscription available

Cons:

  • Unlimited memberships are quite pricey. However, they usually have promotional discounts available for annual passes

Price:

Free for limited access. $39 per month or $299 per year for a Creator Pass (premium subscription).

Why we chose it

This platform is completely dedicated to all things creative. Every class is hosted by a master in their field and includes Grammy winners, best-selling authors and world-class photographers sharing their insights.

You’ll be able to start your creative learning free of charge and if you enjoy it so much that you want more access to more content, there is always the option to sign up for the unlimited Creator Pass either on a monthly basis or an annual subscription.

Whether you’re lucky enough that your passion is your life’s work or you just want to inspire creativity in your spare time, there’s plenty on offer here. CreativeLive classes cover every aspect of the creative process, from learning the basics of Adobe Photoshop and artistic and colour fundamentals to crafting, photography and beyond.


Upskilling explained

Upskilling is a relatively modern term that basically means to advance your learning. When we upskill we’re either learning something new or building on our existing skills by furthering our knowledge or bettering our practice of our existing role.

Whether you’re a computer programmer, a digital analyst or a customer service representative, this fast-paced society in which we live always has something new to learn on offer. Stay in-the-know and ahead of your peers by keeping your skill set current.

Why should you consider upskilling?

There are many reasons someone might consider upskilling. The most popular include a change in career, career advancement, personal growth and a general thirst for knowledge. All of these are valid reasons to consider upskilling. However, the most important factor when considering to upskill is the job market.

It’s a tough world out there, and with few opportunities on offer at the top of the food chain, further learning can go a long way towards giving you the edge over your competitors. Hone your skills, present yourself well on paper and land the job of your dreams: Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly the reason you should always be thinking about expanding your existing knowledge of your role. Getting complacent isn’t an option in the modern working world.


Methodology

35
Brands considered
56
Subject-focused course catalogues explored
6
Best sites chosen
  • We compared 35 online learning websites.
  • We compared 56 specific course catalogues catering to consumer interest that were easily and readily available online.
  • The products on this list have been chosen by our editorial team and were not selected based on commercial relationships.

Looking for more ways to upskill? Check out these guides:

Image source: Getty

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