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3 Free Ways to Upgrade Your Professional Skills without Setting Foot in a Classroom

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Jeff Cuellar

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When was the last time you upgraded your skills and knowledge? Hmmm… that long huh? Well, the bad news about that is you might be holding yourself back when it comes to getting a promotion or a decent pay raise – because you weren’t improving your professional expertise.

When it comes to your career, there’s nothing more dangerous than believing you already know everything about your job. Because the truth is that the knowledge, tools, and processes for any job can change in a matter of years.

 

Don’t Worry, It’s Never Too Late to Upgrade Your Career Prospects

The good news is that it’s never too late to upgrade your skills and knowledge. In fact, Singapore is pretty good about providing workers, especially those working in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with subsidized training and academic courses through the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) and Continuing Education & Training (CET) programs.

If you can take advantage of those programs, great!

However, if you’re looking for FREE ways to upgrade your professional skills (or pick up some news ones) without having to set foot in a classroom, check these out:

 

1. YouTube

Yes, YouTube can be used for more than just watching cute cat videos, Jimmy Kimmel reruns, wahbanana videos, and Gangnam Style (when will that song ever die!).

Believe it or not, YouTube can be a pretty damn good source for picking up new skills, improving your existing job knowledge, or getting help with troublesome academic subjects.

Here are some of the useful skills (and information) you can pick up from YouTube:

  • Foreign Languages – You can learn practically any language through native speakers on YouTube. Plus, there are plenty of foreign films with subtitles that’ll help you learn.
  • Career Advice – You can find videos from experts in many industries offering career advice and tips on achieving success. If you want investment advice, you can watch a video of Warren Buffet. If you want advertising advice, you can watch a video with Sir John Hegarty.
  • Academic Help – You can find videos that can walk you through just about any academic subject you’re having trouble with, whether it’s math, science, IT, etc.

If you’re more of a “visual” learner, then YouTube is a resource you should check out – just don’t let yourself get distracted by cat videos!

 

2. Khan Academy

Khan was a real badass in the movie Star Trek into Darkness, but no – he didn’t found the Khan Academy.

Khan Academy is a non-profit education organization that was founded by entrepreneur Salman Khan to offer free education globally.

However, don’t mistake the word “free” in this context to equal subpar education. Khan academy is loaded with world-class educational courses, lessons, and videos covering a huge variety of subjects.

Here are just some of the courses offered by Khan Academy:

  • Math Courses – You can take courses covering algebra, trigonometry, statistics, and calculus.
  • Science Courses – You can take courses covering biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, health, and medicine.
  • Economics & Finance Courses – You can take courses covering microeconomics, macroeconomics, finance, capital markets, and entrepreneurship.
  • Arts & Humanities Courses – You can take courses covering history, art history, music, and philosophy.
  • Computing Courses – You can take courses covering computer programming and computer science.

If you need to brush up on old skills that have gone rusty or you want to broaden your skills and knowledge, Khan Academy is a certainly a good way to go.

 

3. Massive Open Online Courses

You probably think that picking up an Ivy League education is pretty damn expensive right? Well, you’re correct – if you count the travel, rent, tuition fees, and living expenses it works out to about $50,000+ a year!

Or you can just pay absolutely NOTHING to learn from globally recognized education institutions (including Ivy League schools) through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Of course, even though you’re taking courses that are very similar to the courses offered to paying students, they won’t count towards academic credit – but what matters is that you’re getting top quality knowledge and professional skills without having to pay a single dollar.

Here are some very useful MOOC sites you should check out:

  • Coursera – Offers free online courses on a variety of subjects from world-class education institutions such as the University of Zurich, Stanford University, Yale University, National University of Singapore, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, and Caltech among others.
  • Udacity – Offers a variety of free tech-related courses that go into data science, web development, and software engineering.
  • edX – Offers a variety of authentic university-level online courses that cover practically every subject that you would expect to be taught at a university such as biology, business management, communication, computer science, law, and more. edX was founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

 

Final Note: Remember, no one is going to look out for your professional development for you (and if you have a boss that does, count yourself one hell of a lucky employee!).

The easiest way to stay relevant in the workplace is to continue building up your skills in knowledge, especially in today’s changing business environment. And if you’re an employer looking for bootstrap ways of encouraging your employees to continue learning, you can’t do much better than the options above.

 

What are some other educational resources that you have found beneficial in upgrading your professional skills? Share them with us here!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.