With university courses trebling recently to reach a staggering £9,000 a year, it makes perfect sense that everyone's started to think twice about going to uni. And that goes for people going back to uni too – the so called 'mature students' looking to get that second degree to put them on the road to learning and earning more.
The number of mature students is on the rise across the UK, as we juggle full-time working with part-time studying. For employees, this can be a fairly simple arrangement to organise - and one that's often subsidised or even paid for by employers who are increasingly keen to invest in their the development of their people.
But if you’re one of the 2million or so freelancers in the UK, you’re out on your own. Unlike employees, freelancers and contractors are forced to take the initiative when it comes to training and upskilling. Without training opportunities and financial help, these guys need to find then pay to get better at their profession, themselves.
Doing things independently is, of course, all part and parcel of working for yourself. For many, it’s the reason they choose self-employment. That said, it’s not easy to earn degrees and qualifications when you aren’t getting paid for time spent not working. There’s only so many hours in the day, and taking time off to ‘go back to school’ is a luxury few can afford. Quite literally.
But that hasn’t put off the UK’s independent workforce, who, continue to look for ways to improve their offering and deliver huge value to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s early mornings, late nights, weekends or the odd day here and there, it’s not uncommon to find self-employed people putting in the extra hours training.
To a certain extent, it’s becoming easier for freelancers to find relevant courses to polish their skills. And the internet has once again come to the rescue, with website MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), listing online university and professional courses from all over the world. The catch? There isn’t one. The courses are free.
MOOCs offer you the chance to study courses at a whole range of universities – even Harvard and Yale – with the help of online video lectures and peer assessed assignments. These days MOOCs are seen as a valuable, not to mention a completely legitimate way to increase your freelancer skill set.
With MOOCs you can join a class online from anywhere in the world, with everything sat safely in the cloud. So whether you’re squeezing in half an hour before your commute or studying the second the kids are in bed, you literally can learn anytime, anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. And these days, who doesn’t?
MOOCs give on-the-go freelancers the perfect opportunity to enjoy courses without having to make any life changing, not to mention expensive decisions. And despite even a couple of thousand ‘coursemates’, MOOCs give you the personal treatment. You aren’t simply bunged into a course and left to get on with it. Study at your own pace, chat with classmates and peers for feedback before progressing.
Professionally speaking, MOOCs are one of the simplest, most effective ways to get better at what you do – and put bluntly, put you on the path to be able to justify higher day rates. They’re credible job-training tools, recognised courses, diplomas and degrees.
For freelancers, identifying skills gaps in the current market is a great place to start when it comes to choosing a course. It pays to be an expert, and ahead of the curve. Right now, the most popular MOOCs are those in programming and foreign languages – no doubt down to the arrival of the global market and massive demand for IT skills. So if you’re an IT contractor, here’s your big chance to stand out from the crowd and earn more money than your competitors
Luckily though, there are thousands of courses to choose from. So whether you’re in marketing, HR, PR, coding or programming, there’s likely to be a course useful to you. 100% free, with no obligation to finish them besides your own motivation. So what are you waiting for? Go explore…
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