Whether you want to brush up on digital marketing skills, learn a new language, or master the art of photography, there's a free online course out there for you, writes entrepreneur and upskilling queen June Angelides MBE. Here are five of the best.
I first realised the importance of learning how to upskill after I returned to work from my first maternity leave. I couldn’t believe just how much I had forgotten. If I’m being honest, it made me feel uncomfortable. There weren’t any refresher courses. Why didn’t anyone think of that?
That’s why on my second maternity leave, I made a conscious decision that I was going to do things differently. My new motto became, ‘always be learning‘. I needed to keep my brain active. It could have been anything, learning to cook, knit, a new language. I chose coding. I was working with a lot of really smart technologists and wanted to have even deeper conversations with them. 5 years ago finding a great course that was free was impossible. I was on maternity leave and didn’t have much disposable income so paying wasn’t an option. I ended up creating my own coding school for mums, Mums in Tech, as I couldn’t find one. The good news is you don’t have to.
I was so excited to find out that the Department for Education has launched a FREE online platform, which anyone looking to upskill can access. It is open to everyone, whether they are out of work or thinking about changing jobs, have just graduated or left full time education and are starting their career, or if they’re just keen to keep their mind healthy and busy.
Today I’m sharing my top 5 tips if you are looking to restart your career, look for a new job or start your own business.
Five ways to upskill your career:
1. Master the right mindset
With anything you do in mind, you need to be in the right frame of mind. This is even more important when it comes to your career. I learnt about the Growth Mindset 5 years ago when I was on my own personal journey of self discovery. It was game changing. You know that self-limiting belief that creeps up when you want to do something new? That inner voice that tells you not to apply for that job? Or that doubt that creeps up as you start to tell someone the idea you have for a business?
This course helps you identify how a mentor or coach can support career development; understand the skills and characteristics of an effective mentor or coach; and find out how to become a mentor or coach when you feel ready to take on that role – whether now, or at some stage in your future career.
2. Figure out your learning style
Learning doesn’t have to always be from a book. We are in a digital age and we are so lucky to have numerous formats at our fingertips. These days you can learn from podcasts, YouTube, audiobooks, online courses, webinars and many more mediums. I’m personally a huge fan of podcasts because I can listen to them when I’m driving, cooking or walking around and it gives me access to the minds of hundreds of people and hear first-hand about their experiences and learnings.
I love this Neuroscience for personal development course because it helps you figure out the learning style that is right for you.
3. Own your personal branding journey
During my time building my startup, I really understood the importance of soft skills like presentation and personal branding. Walking into a room with confidence and a real belief in what you are capable of bringing to the table can instantly impact the direction the conversation that follows will go. I had always been very shy in meetings in my career up until that point. I was subconsciously waiting for permission to speak. The reality is that we have to own the way we want to be perceived; from thinking about how we want to present ourselves to how we want people to feel when we walk into a room. Do we want to be respected, trusted, believed? A lot of that is achieved through practice, goal setting and being very intentional.
4. Remember: mentors matter
I personally would not have gotten as far as I did without numerous people believing in me, encouraging me and giving me the tools I needed to move from one stage to the next. At the time I didn’t realise it, but they were all my mentors. I really believe everyone should have a mentor, especially from a young age. The beauty of a mentor is that they have often walked your path or a similar path and help accelerate your career. You can have mentors that you have never met. A lot of people write extensively about their careers via blogs, twitter and books. You can also use this as a means of learning from them. People doing a similar role in other organisations can be mentors, friends and family can also be mentors.
Exploring Career Mentoring and Coaching explains what mentors and career coaches do and how a colleague or expert who can ask the right questions, challenge assumptions, and help an individual to find the best solutions for themselves, can make a significant difference in a wide range of situations and contexts.
5. Start preparing yourself now for a leadership role
You never know when the opportunity to take on more responsibility may present itself. I for one never knew that I would be running my business and had to learn very quickly the art of leadership. Very often in an interview you will be asked where you see yourself in a few years. Take the time to think about your aspirations, the things you enjoy doing and how you can start sharing some of your learnings with others. Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes and the reality is we are all leaders regardless of where our job sits on the organization chart. Each member of staff is an expert at what they do, able to impart that knowledge on to others.
A great course to learn more about this is Leadership and followership.
It’s a great time to be a learner. Learning a new skill could help support your mental health and wellbeing. There are 79 free courses available on The Skills Toolkit, which were packaged up with the help of educational experts and employers. Course providers include The Open University, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, so there’s some really great stuff to choose from!
Support is also available from the National Careers Service, which is available to support you with free personalised careers advice. This is available from 8am to 10pm seven days a week. Get in touch at nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/contact-us or by calling 0800 100 900
And remember, learning never stops.