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Upskilling and reskilling in the face of a global pandemic

At present, we receive daily updates that are disruptive to our professional personal lives. COVID-19 is heavily disrupting the economy and normal working operations for almost every business across the globe. There is no better time, despite the challenges, to upskill yourself or your staff members to make sure that you can keep up with the latest developments. If global lockdowns end up lasting longer than expected, you’re going to need to find a way to keep your business going. We’re going to discuss some methods of upskilling that are useful during the current virus outbreak. 

Why upskill or reskill?

As you may know, businesses that know how to use technology efficiently and effectively have still been able to keep their businesses running despite global lockdowns causing millions of retrenchments to happen pretty much everywhere. 

Remote working or working from home is the top strategy employed by businesses that reduce peer-to-peer physical contact and overall infection risk. However, this model is inappropriate for all industries and jobs – so we think it may be time to add another skillset to your arsenal so that you’ll be able to take up new kinds of jobs to get going.

This is where you may consider spending time on reskilling and upskilling. Reskilling means learning a new set of skills that are outside of existing knowledge, while upskilling means updating your existing knowledge so that they are strengthened. While upskilling and reskilling won’t change the spread of the outbreak, they represent a conscious adaption to difficult circumstances. Reskilling and upskilling are essential for digital working, which is currently sought after by businesses around the world. Learning to work remotely, or updating your current routine, can help you to become a more efficient worker for your company. 

While the future of the outbreak is out of our hands, striving towards new skills and learning to change your mindset in the name of upskilling yourself and moving towards a more prominent age of remote work.

Different types of Upskilling

Realistically, you may not be able to perform all of your work online and you’re still confined to your home. You should view this as an opportunity to upskill yourself your employees.

One of the fundamentals to upskilling or reskilling is emphasising learning as your main goal. Learning can help businesses improve themselves by prioritising new knowledge and experience. Furthermore, employees can contribute their thoughts through communication and conversation that can be shared amongst employees for a more diverse learning experience.

There are three main avenues of skills training that can be taught remotely. Firstly, you can focus on technical training, which is essential for service providers or workers in the information and communications technology sector. This sector requires employees with well-developed technical skills that are common in the industry, as an example.

Secondly is soft-skills training. Interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence can impact our relationships and levels of communication and interaction with others, in both personal and professional capacities. While no replacement for technical skills,  all jobs require at least some level of effective soft skills to make the hard skills more useful.

Finally, leadership development is the third option, and is needed to create or impart strong and effective leadership within a business. Providing leadership development opportunities to employees can improve worker morale and loyalty, and maybe profit levels, too.

These areas can also be used for reskilling, however, this is more prevalent for those looking to switch careers entirely in the face of global pandemic. One key area that you might want to focus on is technical skills for working remotely, or how to manage your time when working from home.

Where to Upskill

At present, it seems as if remote working will become more popular around the world. Therefore, it’s likely that upskilling or reskilling will also need to be done remotely/online. There are many different ways that you might choose to use upskilling, which we’ll share with you.

1.Digital Learning Management Systems

Century Tech uses machine learning to explore teaching for children, and provides accessibility for parents. They are currently offering free English, Maths and Science classes for children who are encountering school closures due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This software is also available for schools who are looking for alternatives to classroom teaching, and may involve young children who prefer more interaction than Zoom.

There’s also Moodle, an open-source learning platform for teachers. It is free to download to teachers and learners alike. It is an integrated system that allows users to create personalised learning environments and was designed with global learning at its core. This is a great way for teachers to use free software to create lesson plans or content plans for remote curricula.

2. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

There are a number of MOOC platforms that you can use, which are becoming increasingly popular. 

We like Future Learn, which primarily partners with universities from Great Britain. You can join courses for free, with optional extras including shipping a physical degree to your home when lockdowns are lifted. Future Learn is very aware of the COVID-19 pandemic and is offering a number of useful courses that can be used for reskilling, such as ‘Teaching English Online: China and Beyond’ – this would allow you to easily improve or change your skillset to become eligible to start teaching remotely. 

They’re also got some great courses in upskilling, such as Computer Programming for Everyone and How to Create Great Online Content from the University of Leeds and Institute of Coding. 

Coursera is one of the most popular MOOCs and it allows users to join for free. It even offers full Master’s Degrees online, though we can’t vouch for the quality of these just yet – they’re certainly an option and are mostly offered by American Universities. We’d recommend their Design Thinking for Innovation which can help anyone professional start thinking outside of the box.

Udemy is Coursera’s closest rival, and is also notable for its vast array of courses.  However, only a few courses are free and most others cost between R99-R400 for the entire course. These can include over 100 hours of lectures and other content, so this price seems quite nominal in exchange for the price – be sure to check the course specifics before choosing one, though, to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Udemy has some useful e-commerce courses such as Become a Freelance Web Developer for R280 and How to Set up a WooCommerce WordPress site for free. 

If you’re multilingual in a foreign language, Canvas might be the choice for you, as it offers Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese courses while most others only offer English. 

If you’re looking to improve your communication and soft-skills, you might want to use edX. They offer a free Business Communication course that is aimed at conducting effective meetings and best practices for digital communication. They’ve even got courses that are more suited to self-care, such as The Science and Practice of Yoga if you’re looking for a better way to take a physical break from sitting at your desk all day. 

3. Choose from a range of self-directed platforms

If you don’t like the idea of MOOCs, you could also try some self-directed learning content. Education Nation is a repository of useful e-learning resources for children and adults alike, and is borrowed from countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden, who have been using digital learning for a while before the global pandemic hit. Their content is available for free at present. This includes platforms such as BitDegree, which assigns personas to users in an attempt to understand their existing skills and job titles. This is a well-designed website that offers free courses to registered users. BitDegree is offering a vast range of free courses during COVID-19, including an Instagram Marketing course and Practical Project Management as examples. 


Even though the future is currently unclear thanks to the Novel Coronavirus, the future of your job doesn’t have to resign itself to this same fate. You might want to try out some online courses that can help you learn new skills or improve on existing knowledge. If you’re on a budget, fear not, as there are a lot of free options available. Providers of online content are very aware of the effect that COVID-19 has on people and many of them have made cost concessions so that users from around the world can access courses for free.

If you’re a teacher or a parent of a child who can’t homeschool, you might consider using a digital learning system such as Century Tech to ensure that your child is still learning while at home. If you’re a working professional, you have a large array of choices when it comes to e-learning. You might want to use a popular MOOC such as Coursera, or you might choose from a host of free content and services that are shared from Education Nation in Europe.

Regardless of your choice, remember to stay positive and try to use this time to the best of your ability. 

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