Studying at home is the new way to learn, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything. There are many free online courses with certificates that can improve your career prospects.
Why take a free online course?
Adding to your skill set can increase your chances of promotion, or help you land a new job with a better salary. Free online courses with certificates boost your CV and provide proof of your knowledge and self-motivation.
Freelancers and the self-employed can increase their profits through online training in business skills. Online courses can fit around your other commitments.
Are all ‘free’ online courses really free?
Some online colleges offer free online learning to attract students to diploma courses that have fees. Others offer free online courses but you have to pay for the certificate. Some course providers encourage students to sign up for a free trial but then might take money after a set time period.
How to find the right free online courses with certificates
Many free courses just offer a basic introduction. If there are certificates, then they may not be meaningful qualifications. The amount of time you’ll need to commit should be detailed in course descriptions.
So how do you make sure that you are taking the best free online course with a certificate?
- Does the course result in a recognised qualification?
- Will you be able to use and demonstrate the skill or knowledge that you have acquired?
- Is the course relevant to your needs and level of expertise?
Set specific career goals, and search for courses that will ensure you achieve your ambition.
Government-sponsored Level 3 qualifications for adults
The UK government has announced investment in training through the National Skills Fund. Adults aged 24 and over should soon be able to access fully funded Level 3 qualifications if they do not have this level of qualification already. Level 3 qualifications are equivalent to 2 A-levels or a technical certificate or diploma.
Government-funded free online courses
Free Courses Online enables UK residents to gain nationally recognised qualifications. Courses focus on areas including counselling skills, business administration, equality and diversity, warehousing and storage, digital skills and retail operations.
The Skills Toolkit
According to The Skills Toolkit, online learning can boost your annual pay by up to £3,640. Speak to a National Careers Service adviser and take a skills assessment. Then sign up with The Skills Toolkit for free online courses with certificates in work-related topics such as business and finance, professional development, coding and computer science.
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Open University – OpenLearn
OpenLearn is the Open University’s platform for free online courses, available to the public.
On completion, students are awarded a Statement of Participation or a ‘digital badge’.
There are hundreds of stand-alone free courses with an academic or practical slant, which can enhance career prospects. For many, OpenLearn courses are a route into further study with The Open University.
Free courses with certificates at online colleges
There are many online academies that offer free courses. Here are some of the best options.
Alison offers a wealth of free online courses with certificates. The certificates are not free, but you can download a learner record as proof of participation. Courses include an assessment.
Skillshare Basic offers free online courses. Platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare are great for those who want a specific skill, like digital marketing, but don’t require a certificate.
Study for free at Harvard or Cambridge
The non-profit organisation edX partners with educational institutions around the globe to provide accessible learning for all. You can study free online courses – with certificates (not free) – at top universities including Harvard. Topping up academic or creative learning can support careers in sectors such as heritage, education and the arts.
FutureLearn helps students to access courses developed by the best educational intuitions. You can sign up for free courses online, with the option to upgrade for certificates and unlimited access.
Most universities offer free online courses for the public. The only challenge is finding the time!
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