The Skills Toolkit has been launched today by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to give people access to free, top quality digital and numeracy courses to help people build skills, progress in work and boost job prospects.
Three courses on the OU’s popular OpenLearn platform will feature in The Skills Toolkit:
Everyday Maths designed to refresh your maths skills to help with everyday life or get on in your job; Learn to Code for Data Analysis where you learn how to write your own computer programs, one line of code at a time and Introduction to Cyber Security: Stay Safe Online to learn how to stay safe online, at home and at work.
In addition, five focused courses from the OU’s part-owned FutureLearn platform will also feature on The Skills Toolkit. These are: Create a Professional Online Presence, Thriving in the Digital Workplace, How to Create Great Online Content, Presenting Your Work with Impact and Digital Skills: Social Media (for Business).
Many of the above OU and FutureLearn digital-related free courses have been created as part of the Institute of Coding which includes both organisations among its partners.
The OU’s OpenLearn site has seen a fourfold increase in visitors since the lockdown.
All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.
In launching The Skills Toolkit, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson said:
“I know how difficult the recent months have been and the huge changes the coronavirus has brought on the daily lives of us all.
“The high-quality and free to access courses on offer on our new online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, will help those whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak, and people looking to boost their skills while they are staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.
“I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.”
Learning initiatives across the nations
Similar initiatives to share OU free learning have also begun in collaboration with the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.
The OU’s OpenLearn site has already seen a massive hike in visitor numbers since the lockdown, regularly attracting four times as many daily visits to the site as it would normally expect.
Feedback among those who have already completed the OU’s Introduction to Cyber Security Course has been very positive, one learner saying: “A free course but loaded with rich stuff. It was great.”
Feedback from those who have completed OpenLearn courses has been positive
Another, speaking about the Learn to Code for Data Analysis commented: “The number of available courses is impressive and this has given me a structured place to start studying towards what I hope to be a new career for me (after a brief time out of work raising kids). Thank you!”