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One thing that’s for sure is that consumer expectations and the way we do everyday business is changing before our very eyes; artificial intelligence, digitalisation and automation is creating lots of new and exciting jobs, but unfortunately making others redundant at the same time. Innovation and evolution of work are two things that aren’t going away, in fact a report from McKinsey Global Institute predicts that up to 375 million people globally may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills by the year 2030 (1). If you are a mother who wants to get in on this action and learn a new skill, but worried about high costs, childcare issues, and/or location, you need not worry too much. Thankfully modern times allow for online learning as this give you the option to study from home, fit a course around your children, and learn at a reduced cost. If you are exploring the idea of “getting back to education” or upskilling yourself in any way, below are some ideas on different tools you can use to develop or improve skills without having to worry too much about it getting in the way of your commitments.
Online learning platforms
Cost: Ranging between $10-$200/month
Online learning platforms such as Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera and LinkedIn Learning, are websites that have on demand courses created by industry experts for anyone. These platforms offer you access to a wide variety of classes from a range of industries such as, business, technology, and creative arts. Some of these platforms charge a monthly subscription fee others charge you a fee per course. If this sounds interesting to you but you are not quite sure whether you will find something for you, one thing you could try is Skillshare’s 2-week free trial. They have a lot of quality classes to choose from, their teachers are subject to strict requirements, and if you like their service, subscription is only $19/month or $99/year.
Formal higher education
Cost: Ranging between $3,996-$29,995/course
Universities such as the Open University or the Arden University are known for their distance learning courses and offer a range of diplomas and degrees. Higher education courses will generally be on the pricier side and require prerequisites, however the courses are usually accredited (meaning they are formally approved by a professional body) which will be helpful if you legally need a specific qualification for a specific job. There are many Universities that offer distant learning courses, so if there is a particular qualification you are interested in getting, it’s worth doing some digging, jobs boards such as Reed.co.uk advertise many.
Cost: range between $0 - $10,000
Training courses are similar to higher education courses mentioned, only they offer specific instructions for specific scenarios. These courses are normally short i.e can last a few hours to a few months, but to the right people, are highly regarded. For instance if you plan on building a successful food-based business, obtaining a food hygiene certificate can help advance this goal. Or if you plan on developing a digital marketing career, a Google Certifications award (Publisher, Analytics, AdWords) can be a good look for you. Courses are heavily marketed on job boards such as Reed.co.uk so that’s a good place to start from, alternatively check to see if your employer offers any training that you can do online.
Self-directed learning e.g YouTube
Cost: Technically $0
I know plenty of mums who have established successful companies, as self-taught bakers, make-up artists, and sales professionals from studying and following many tutorials. A lot of high tier online influencers also proclaim that they learnt their skills from watching YouTube videos. This is another great avenue to go down as all you need is access to the internet and off you go. Of course the quality of tutorials uploaded is not regulated, but if you filter search results by view count or relevance and read through the comments, you should get a pretty good idea if the video you are about to watch will be of value. Open Course Ware, a network of lessons created by universities, have a channel on YouTube where they post lectures and workshops, check them out if you are interested.
Ever so important tips
If you have decided to enrol in a course, or pick up a class, below are some favourable tips that should help you on your journey.
Time management and commitment
As a mum, organisation is probably your middle name by now, and fitting in studying requires the same mindset. Decide which pockets of time you will dedicate to your studies, and stick to them consistently. You may also have to put your social life (not that we can have one right now) and hobbies on hold. Distractions will come and go, but unless an extenuating circumstance comes up, there should be no reason for you to trail off. It won’t be forever so keep at it.
Set small but achievable tasks
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. In the beginning things may seem daunting, but if you task yourself with bite-size pieces, everything will eventually add up and before you know it you’ll be taking your final bite and giving yourself a pat on the back.
Location location location
Create an environment that will promote focused learning. This can be a certain ambiance or a certain time of day, create an environment that works for you and will also bring out the best in you.
Seek out an accountability partner
This can be your peers via a study session, your tutor/lecturer (if you have access to them) for advice, or your family and friends who will be your cheerleaders as you progress through your course, it’s probably not going to be easy, so you will need to find a way to keep your spirits up.
Whether it is for a career advancement, to accomplish a dream of yours, or to set an example for your children, online learning is an option that can make these attainments more accessible to busy mums. Your course (particularly the longer ones) will probably come with some disadvantages such as loneliness, or mum guilt, but the potential rewards will most likely outweigh the temporary sacrifice. Just keep your eyes on the prize, remember what it is you are aiming for and why you are aiming for it, and this should fuel your focus no matter what happens.
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