The work-from-home boom that has been generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has not only inspired folks to learn to crochet and bake sourdough bread, but also to invest time and resources in polishing existing skills and building new ones that may help career advancement.
Here are some upskilling options for 2021 that won’t break the bank:
LinkedIn touts its class offering as a way to learn “in-demand skills with over 16,000+ online courses taught by real-world professionals.” LinkedIn Learning is offered via a subscription model starting at $19.99 monthly (when billed annually) after a free trial. Most courses are short – 3 hours or less – and all are self-paced. Completers earn a certificate at the end.
As you can imagine, with 16,000 courses, a huge variety of topics is offered, including project management, human resources, business software, customer service, finance and accounting, sales, leadership and management, and marketing. Courses previously offered by the popular Lynda.com have now been rolled into LinkedIn Learning.
Bonus tip: Check with your local library; some libraries have a subscription to LinkedIn Learning and offer courses at no cost to library patrons.
With its dated name, the 96-year-old Toastmasters International organization is often misunderstood. In contrast to the image of old guys offering toasts in smoke-filled rooms that are so often evoked whenever Toastmasters is mentioned, the global organization recently launched an innovative new educational program, Pathways, that is delivered largely online and helps members develop their communication and leadership skills. Within those umbrella categories, members can practice 300 workplace competencies, from time management to teamwork, in a self-paced program.
Most Toastmasters clubs worldwide switched to meeting online after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. About 3,000 employers worldwide offer the Toastmasters program within their organizations. Dues of $90 annually go to the Toastmasters International organization; local clubs often add on a small amount to cover their costs.
You can learn more and see if there’s a club in your area at https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club (since most clubs are meeting online, they do not have to be near you).
In a climate in which employers consider college degrees less important than they ever did before, certificates have emerged as viable – even crucial – credentials for those looking to upskill and get ahead.
While some certification programs are quite pricey, many carry a lower price point or are even offered free, such as those offered by FreeCodeCamp. Try conducting a search on “free certification programs.”
Volunteer opportunities abound everywhere and provide the ability to practice and polish skills at no cost. Consider the gaps in your skills you’d like to fill and brainstorm organizations that might offer volunteer slots that require those skills. You can even list your volunteer roles on your resume and describe how the skills you’ve used in these roles transfer and apply to the paid role you seek.
In case you were concerned, for most employers, experience is experience; the fact that you developed skills and experience while performing unpaid work is usually perfectly fine. And, even if a volunteer role doesn’t allow you to develop specialized skills, you will undoubtedly have the chance to apply overarching skills like communication and teamwork.