COVID-19 Series: Choosing the right online training

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If you have lost your job or been stood down during the Coronavirus outbreak, you may be considering signing up for one of the many online training courses currently being promoted.

While some short-term online courses are free or low-cost, others involve a significant financial and time investment. Before you commit to a specific course, you need to understand whether it will make you competitive for jobs.

Below are five steps to finding the right online training course for you!

Step 1: Why do I want to study?

Think about why you want to study. Is it to:

  • help you to make the move to a new job or career?
  • fill in time learning something that interests you?
  • fill any skills-gaps that could be holding you back from getting the role you want?
  • make you more competitive for jobs in your current industry when the shutdown ends?
  • build skills to help you do your current job?

Having a clear goal can help you decide what training you need. A short-course, licence or skill-set may be all you need to boost your existing career. While moving into a brand new industry may require longer-term training (and a larger financial commitment).

Step 2: What jobs are available, now and in the longer term?

If you are looking for a career change, you need to consider what jobs will be available as the economy opens up and which employers will be hiring.

Where will new workers be needed and what type of jobs will employers be looking to fill? Healthcare and IT are just two examples of industries that are currently in-demand and are likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Other industries might take longer to offer opportunities for job seekers.

Step 3: What skills do I need to be competitive for the job I want?

Think about the job you want and research what skills, attributes and experience employers are looking for.

Do workers need to have:

  • specific personal traits? Such as good communication, empathy or reliability?
  • industry accreditation or licences? This includes forklift licences and IT support desk accreditations.
  • formal qualifications to do this job? For example, Nursing or Teaching.

For tips on researching employers you want to work for, check out our article How to research employers.

Step 4: What type of online training is right for me?

Once you have an idea of the job you want and the skills you require, you need to find the right training.

Don’t assume that just because a course is expensive, it is high quality or that it will guarantee you a job. Treat training as you would any other financial investment – make sure it’s right for you and that you will benefit from it.

Free short courses may not make you an expert in a particular field but these can be a great way to dip your toe into a particular industry or role to see if it would be a good fit. For example, if you are wondering whether IT could be a new career for you, you could try some free online programming or data-science courses to see whether you could do this for a living.

Step 5: Committing to long term training

Many education providers offer online courses. So how do you know which one to choose?

Things to think about before linking with formal training include:

  • How long will the course take me to complete and how many hours a week do I need to commit? While you may have capacity right now, will things change once you go back to work?
  • What are the costs for the course? How will you pay for this? Are there extras to factor in, for example, additional equipment and textbooks?
  • What qualification will I gain at the end? Do employers value this qualification? Be aware that a qualification by itself may not be enough to make you competitive for jobs - you will also likely need relevant work experience.
  • Does this training provider have links to employers in the industry I am interested in? Can they help you find a job after the course is over?

These are questions you should have answers to before you click go on your training.

To help you answer these questions, use our ‘Online training provider comparison table’ to directly compare online training providers.

More resources to help you