Find out how to utilise online learning platforms to supercharge your skills and experience
Whilst it is no secret that building work experience and skills will put you in a stronger position when it comes to finding graduate work, there are additional ways you can make yourself more employable. Developing your skills and knowledge through digital learning outside of your degree studies is one of these ways and is something that can also be evidenced on your CV or LinkedIn profile. Not only this but deciding to undertake additional e-learning is often attractive to employers as it can demonstrate core competencies needed in the workplace such as self-motivation and working independently.
Benefits of online learning
There are many benefits of e-learning as a way to build your skills and experience including:
- You choose where to study - E-learning provides you with the opportunity to practice self development anywhere and at a time to suit you. There is no need to travel to a particular location and often can be undertaken on a range of devices with many courses accessible from apps or mobile devices.
- You choose when to study- Unlike in-person learning, you can choose when you learn and fit this around your other commitments. As long as you have access to the internet your options are endless.
- Fill CV gaps - Although work experience is one of the top things employers look for alongside your degree, if you have any gaps in your work/voluntary history on your CV, showcasing your online learning can be a great way to address this and show employers you’ve been proactive during your job search.
- Learn more about your preferred industry - Hiring managers are always looking for their candidates to have some initial understanding and interest in their industry. Even if it’s your first job, employers will often ask questions about your commercial awareness. E-learning can be a great way to build this and really impress employers.
- Can be low/no cost - Although high level qualifications can be costly, when it comes to additional online learning there are many low-cost or free options out there that can offer you a good introduction to some new content or build on existing skills.
Choosing an online learning course
It can be challenging to know where to start with online learning as there’s so much available. It may be that you want to develop an existing strength and really master it, or perhaps you’d prefer to learn something completely new. If you already have a specific career path in mind this can be an easier place to start as you can choose strategically and work on something which is on the employers’ wishlist. Looking at job adverts for the types of role you’re interested in and that align with your future career goals can be an excellent source of inspiration as they list what’s genuinely in demand. Alternatively, you may wish to search for your preferred role on the Prospects website. Job profile(s) on Prospects include a ‘required skills’ section which can also offer some ideas and help to identify any potential gaps in your skillset.
If you are more open-minded about your career options at this stage, there are still plenty of skills areas that are almost universally welcome by employers. For example, anything that enhances your communication, teamwork, organisation or IT skills will prove useful in any workplace.
What E-learning options are there?
As you’d expect, whilst there are fees and costs with many forms of online learning, there are also many excellent free online learning resources you can make the most of. The below provides information on some of the most popular ones to get you started:
If you have a LinkedIn profile, you are likely to have come across ‘LinkedIn Learning’. LinkedIn Learning is LinkedIn’s online learning website and provides a wide range of video courses delivered by industry experts in business, creative and technical skills. Free access to LinkedIn Learning is available throughout your time as a student and for 5 months after you graduate. During this time you will have access to the full LinkedIn Learning library and the opportunity to undertake courses from the many thousands on offer. Login using your University login details to get started.
HM Government Skills for Life - Skills Bootcamps
Available to anyone aged 19 and looking to change sectors or progress in their current industry, a Skills Bootcamp offered by Skills for Life could be your next step. They offer flexible courses lasting up to 16 weeks, allowing you to gain skills employers are looking for. Offered as classroom-based learning, on-the-job, online and short courses, these are fully-funded by the government if you are taking the course yourself and not through your employer.
MOOC stands for 'massive open online course'. Originating in the US, MOOCs are now widely available, typically free, easily accessible and completely online courses. They offer you the opportunity to study with a range of providers, including top universities around the world. Whilst they don't always lead to a formal qualification, they do allow you to gain knowledge in a wide range of areas. You might use a MOOC to develop career skills, prepare for further education, or to explore a new interest. One of the advantages of taking part in a MOOC is the large community of learners you are likely to be a part of, meaning that there will be support available. This will also include educators delivering the courses themselves. Here are examples of some of the key providers:
- FutureLearn: This site offers courses in a wide range of subjects. A lot of the content has been developed by universities and is good to build professional skills, connect with experts and for personal interest and development.
- Coursera: This site collaborates with over 200 universities and companies to offer a range of courses that aim to develop your skills, enhance your employability or gain a specific qualification. It's great for business topics, for example, ‘PwC's introduction to ‘Data Analysis and Presentation Skills’.
- edX: This American-based site, hosts a wide range of courses from computer science to business management and from engineering to humanities. edX is one of the major providers of MOOCs offering over 2500 courses and collaborating with a wide range of international universities and organisations.
- Open University: You have probably heard of the Open University (OU) but as well as paid courses they offer an extensive range of free online courses covering virtually every subject you can possibly think of. You can also set up a personal learning profile to keep track of what you have achieved.
- Udacity: Specifically focused on the skills required by major technology companies, Udacity offers industry-based programmes developed by names such as Google and IBM. Whilst free access is limited, if you are looking to enhance your skills in specialist areas such as programming and development, artificial intelligence, cloud computing or data science, there are a range of opportunities available.
Online Language Learning
Language skills are invaluable in any profession and even essential for some. Speaking an additional or multiple languages can demonstrate to employers that you are a good communicator and problem solver, as well as showing that you are culturally aware.. As we continually evolve our digital connection to the world, it has never been easier to 'test the waters' when it comes to learning the basics of a new language. Whether you are a complete beginner or someone who is looking to brush up their current language knowledge, there is a great range of free online courses available to develop your skills . A few popular options to start include:
- Duolingo: Game-based approach to learning more than 30 languages. Unlock new areas as your skills improve. You can start as a beginner or if you're a little more advanced, take a test to skip the basics.
- Memrise: This app uses fun, proven memory techniques that are based on real-life language. Native speakers are used in thousands of video clips to ensure a more authentic experience of language learning.
- Busuu: Become part of a social community and learn through interacting with international native speakers to support your speaking and writing. The course offers a variety of ways to teach and test your learning from teaching units, set exercises and games. A limited free trial is offered to new members.
- OpenLearn Language Courses: OpenLearn offers a host of free language courses through the Open University at a range of course levels and lengths. Similar language learning opportunities can also be found via FutureLearn and Alison.
E-Learning for Technical Skills
Technical skills and knowledge are becoming increasingly important across all industries and are valued highly by employers. There are an excellent range of online courses and tools to help you demonstrate technical skills beneficial for jobs you’re applying for and can help you get ahead of the competition. Several of these are highlighted above such as LinkedIn Learning and MOOCs but some additional recommendations include:
- Codecademy - Specialising in delivering e-learning on programming, this online course website offers courses in 14 different programming languages across 10 different subject areas. The main focus of this provider is on interactive learning, making it more engaging and accessible for as many people as possible.
- Google Digital Garage: At this link you can discover a range of free digital skills training via an online learning platform. This platform provides individuals with a tailored training plan.
- iDEA: If you want to get really technical you can take a course in coding and gain certification too on this site.
- Microsoft Learning: Here you can gain a wide range of Microsoft technical skills and be rewarded with role-based certifications.
Additional e-learning opportunities can be found through a wide range of providers. To find the best ones, ensure to research your preferred industry or sector carefully and look to professional sources for recommendations or reach out to people you may know/ meet working in these areas for their suggestions.
A further list of our recommended online courses can be found on our Identifying Your Skills webpage and are categorised into key skills areas. The National Careers Service (NCS) also has a list of recommended e-learning programmes through their Skills Toolkit, so you may wish to have a look through both of these for further inspiration.
Whether your priority right now is learning to boost your career skills or simply following your interests, if you want to think more about where those skills and interests can take you there are lots of resources to help you explore different options on our web pages or you could try a quick quiz to kick start your journey to that perfect career
Alternatively, contact the Careers and Employability Service via email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk things through with an adviser.