Looking to upskill or reskill? Here are four online platforms that offer free training

Despite what we’ve read in articles that talk about the “future of work” and the role of technology and automation in the workplace; Most jobs won’t be automated away, they will change at the margins, requiring nearly all individuals to continuously adapt to use increasingly digital tools. Unfortunately, a study discussed during a National Skills Coalition panel on Feb. 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C., found that millions of workers in the U.S. have very limited or no digital skills. 

At Skillful, we refer to the lack of focus on the jobs that are slowly being transformed by technology and the workers who lack digital skills as a Digital Blindspot. To ensure our economy can withstand the fourth industrial revolution, we need to pay just as much attention to our digital blindspot as we do to the jobs that will become obsolete because of automation.

The future of work is now, and it requires us to be lifelong learners! As industries welcome new technologies and new techniques, it is increasingly important that individuals upskill and reskill. That is why we’ve compiled this list of platforms that offer free online training:

1. edX

Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is a global nonprofit that provides stackable learning experiences in topics ranging from data and computer science to leadership and communications. The classes offered by edX are free, but people can choose to purchase a verified certificate of course completion to highlight the knowledge and skills they have gained. A lot of these certificates start as low as $50.00.

2. Alison

Alison offers over 1,000 courses available across 9 distinct categories, all free to complete. This platform provides three types of courses: Certificate courses, Diploma courses, and learning paths. Much like edX, Alison’s learners will be charged a fee to receive a certificate of completion, the price for the certificate will vary depending on the type of course chosen.  

3. Coursera

Coursera gives access to audit hundreds of courses for free. When auditing a course, the learner will have access to most of the course materials but won't be able to submit certain assignments for feedback or a grade and won’t get a course certificate. Full access to courses and course certificates vary in price, but people can apply for financial aid if they can’t afford the fee.

4. CodeCademy

CodeCademy is an online platform that offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages. This site offers 180 hours of free content which includes Interactive lessons and daily practice, and offers a pro option, for $19/month learners receive additional exercises, practice packs, and contains real-world projects to apply the skills learned.

If we want to address online training, we must also address the digital divide. Data on internet access is inexact, but according to a 2019 report from the Federal Communications Commission, around 21 million people in America don’t have home access to broadband. Fortunately, there are options out there and companies are stepping up their efforts to expand internet accessibility. Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, and others offer low-income families internet starting at $9.95/month, Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is helping bring broadband connectivity to people living in underserved rural areas, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these companies are offering free internet essentials.

Although during these uncertain times, learning new skills might be the last thing on our mind, it is important to remember that investing in ourselves is crucial to our future success.