Career and self-growth

Free Online Courses to Upskill Yourself for the Career You Want

Whether you’re a macro/micro entrepreneur waiting for opportunities, a corporate pro or freelancer, solo parent looking to make ends meet or simply someone looking for more income, this one’s for you.

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Why is upskilling important? First, even in your first minute scanning job ads, you’ll find employers looking for skills that are new and unfamiliar to you. Second, there continue to be many local workplaces that talk “digital and future” but walk “seniority first” and the padrino system. In this situation, the ability to learn new skills fast isn’t just a plus, it's a MUST.

Done on your own time and pace, upskilling is one of the most affordable steps to improve your future, career and income. Plus, it can be fun.

Jack of All Trades, Master of…80%++

For all the fun it brings, the digital era demands a lot from us as workers. It calls for a return of the Renaissance figure–a modern-day Da Vinci or Rizal with a diverse, ever-growing skillset. The old 9-to-5 may be gone, but in its place we need more skills than ever.

With traditional jobs constantly being overtaken or replaced by AI, upskilling is your compass to a more secure career – even if you’re a freelancer. According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the Philippines reached 208% growth in freelance revenues in 2020, much faster than its 35% growth in 2019.

That was partly the pandemic, but many Filipinos are just not going back. Jenny, a 48-year old Lupus survivor, is part of this demographic.

“I thought I was too old and non-tech savvy to learn digital and AI-based work. I took the courage to try, since I also needed an alternative work setup that could accommodate sudden treatments,” she explains. With her new skills, Jenny can work from home, creating a healthy, sustainable life despite her schedule from tech-based remote and freelance jobs.


Four Skills You’ll Need to Succeed

In our quest to thrive now, four key skills stand out:

Digital tools and technology skills - new software, for example

Comfort with analytics and data, including data science

Business management and project management skills

Design and creative skills

Among these, cybersecurity, coding, and digital marketing are highly portable, meaning your knowledge is useful whatever industry you may go into.

More than securing employment, you can also take advantage of our country’s thriving start-up ecosystem. Put those research skills to work to compare free courses to best enhance what you already know:

TESDA Online Program (TOP)

TESDA Online Program (TOP) is your gateway to a suite of free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), tailored specifically for the bustling lifestyle of the modern Filipino worker.

University of the Philipines (UP) Open University

Massive Open Distance eLearning (MODeL) is the University of the Philippines Open University’s platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You can register for online courses, all free and accessible to anyone with a thirst for learning. Endorsed by CHED and backed by Republic Act 10650.

Google Online Certification Courses
Google online courses are always a good choice to get the digital marketing skills you need to grow in your career or business.

Yale University Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator

Whether your job requires negotiation skills, or you simply want to learn, you can get insights into how to apply the game theory approach to negotiations. Becoming a good negotiator can be a valuable skill both at work and in your personal life.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare Free Online Course Materials

MIT OpenCourseWare is a free and open collection of material from thousands of MIT courses, covering the entire MIT curriculum. It does not offer credit or certifications – knowledge is just your reward. It has no enrollment or registration, no sign ups and no end dates – simply free and open resources perfect for those who want to grow in their career.

Harvard University: CS50: Introduction to Computer Science

CS50x is an introductory course in Computer Science at Harvard University for both majors and non-majors, regardless of their prior programming experience, to explore the intellectual aspects of computer science and the art of programming. In this entry level course, students will learn to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python
This is your beginner-friendly journey into coding. It’s designed to show you how coding can solve various problems, suitable for any major. You’ll learn to create useful programs with Python 3.5—a versatile and accessible language.

These are free, but you should also check out nonprofits and foundations in fields that interest you. Many also offer scholarships or subsidized training to qualified applicants.

Prefer to be your own boss? Project management, business development, and design thinking are useful in any business. You probably know a bit about all of these, but that’s just step 1. Online courses can update your skills, challenge your assumptions, and give you the confidence you need.


Certifications: Your Competitive Edge

Social media and cyberspace are cluttered with ads for classes on every imaginable topic, all promising to Change Your World in a day. But which upskill course gives you the best ROI for your time, effort, and data plan?

Certifications are worth paying for

In healthcare, engineering, or finance, the real quality jobs require real technical skills. If you’re seeking overseas clients or even considering migration, do your research to know exactly which certifications are useful in your field or potential country.

Here’s what makes certifications worthwhile:

  1. Proof of Mastery - A certification is third-party validation that you meet the standard. It means you’ve practiced the required hours and passed the exams, whatever school or company/ies you list in your resume. Some examples are CDPSE (Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer) and CISM (Certified Information Security Manager).
  2. Proactive Professional Development - Certification gives you an edge. You are bridging the gap between the skills employers demand and those their employees have. That shows you’re serious about the industry, have healthy ambition and a go-for-it attitude.
  3. Career Advancement - Having a certification makes it easier for you to be considered for promotion. All things being equal among applicants, it’s one more credential in your favor.
  4. Higher Compensation - Some employers offer higher salaries to staff with the certifications that catch clients’ eye. A good example is BPOs, which pay extra for proficiency in certain languages or a medical/ technical background.
  5. Networking and Community - If you’re entering a new field, your online classmates and profs can be your best source of referrals and job leads. Simply knowing someone who already works in a company can be a step up in pitching a project or landing a job.

Staying Relevant in a Tech Driven World

If this keeps you up at night, join the club. Employees and entreps alike are losing sleep over the same question. Once again, upskilling is the answer here. Adopt an attitude of lifelong learning, proactivity and adaptability. Here are some tips:

  1. Lifelong Learning: Learn to see new knowledge is fun, not a chore. Once you’ve mastered a skill, keep up with it through online courses and workshops, and be creative in applying them to your work. Look for free courses on platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and edX.
  2. Stay Ethical and Responsible:  With great power… you know how it goes. Stay on top of issues in ethical AI, and choose to use technology to address inequality, scarcity and social ills. You’ll never run out of problems to solve.
  3. Sharpen Your Technical Skills: Some currently hot skills include data analysis, machine learning, AI, and programming languages like Python, R, or Java.
  4. Problem-Solving Skills: If you’ve got them, flex them. Solve clients’ real-world challenges and watch the gigs roll in.
  5. Cultivate Soft Skills. Creativity. Collaboration. Negotiation. These non-quantifiable, non-technical skills are in demand in the tech industry, which has plenty of engineers but not enough people to “translate” ideas into reality and to outsiders. If your tech skills are at par, soft skills could be the upgrade you need.
  6. Stay Agile and Adaptable: Companies must adapt to survive, and so must we. Learn to love change instead of being anxious about it.
  7. Network: Attend tech meetups, join forums and communities, connect with pros in the fields you want to be in. Enjoy being a newbie and asking questions. You’ll gain insights and find chances to practice your new skills in the real world.   

Upskilling for a tech-driven world may not come easily to you, but you don’t have to raise capital or drain hard-earned savings to do it. The only investment you need is time, dedication, consistent effort and humility.

If you put in enough of those, you’ll have new cards to play, new weapons to deploy… and be more than ready for the next new thing that comes. 

Upskilling can protect your financial future

In today's world where new technologies can quickly make old skills redundant, upskilling is the key to maintaining and enhancing your marketability and career resilience. It’s about anticipating future trends and preparing to meet them head-on. Just as life insurance mitigates financial risks by preparing for unforeseen circumstances, upskilling mitigates professional risks, ensuring that your career trajectory is not only protected but also primed for success.

Learn how you can protect your financial future through a free consultation with a financial advisor.