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Last updated: 10th March, 2021

Online Business Academy

Upskilling and reskilling resources

Whether you want to upskill your online workforce or expand your own skills, upskilling and reskilling are becoming vital aspects of both HR and freelance working. Read our guide to the best free and low-cost online resources available.

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What are upskilling and reskilling?

While upskilling refers to expanding the expertise within your skillset, reskilling is defined by learning all new skills and knowledge – potentially taking you down an entirely different career path.

For example, if you already have a career as a freelancer writer and you take a course in proofreading then you are upskilling. If you are a builder and take a course in proofreading, you are reskilling.

Why upskill or reskill?

Upskilling and reskilling is becoming an integral part of business. Why waste time and money on finding new members of staff with the right skills for your operations, when you can train up the employees you have? Upskilling and reskilling can lead to better retention, more satisfied employees and a more skilled workforce – as well as improving your business’s capabilities and increasing your revenue.

If you’re a freelancer and want to expand your skills, you may find you gain more work opportunities. Whether it’s because clients find you more attractive, you appear more in online searches or the jobs you take on are more varied, upskilling and reskilling can help open up your freelance business.

What are the best resources?

Let’s take a look at some of the best available resources for upskilling and reskilling.

The Open University

The Open University is a great resource for upskilling or reskilling, depending on what you choose to study. The university is based predominantly online, enabling you to study and expand your skills from anywhere in the world. With a range of 128 degrees in total, the university has plenty of opportunity to learn something new.

Here is a comprehensive list of the qualifications and course types the establishment offers:

  • Honours degrees
  • Integrated masters degrees
  • Foundation degrees
  • Diplomas of Higher Education
  • Certificates of Higher Education
  • Open University certificates
  • Open qualifications
  • Microcredentials
  • Modules
  • Short courses.

The sector-endorsed microcredential courses are especially designed to help upskill professionals. From ‘Business Management: Marketing Principles and Practice’ to ‘Digital Photography: Creating a Professional Portfolio’, the 10-12-week courses combine tuition from study advisors with project-based assessments.

Prices* for the microcredentials range from £450-£675, while the cost of a degree is £6,192 per year. Although this isn’t exactly cheap, it is low-cost considering the average university fee in the UK is £9,250 per year.


Coursera is an online course provider that offers a range of courses, certificates and degrees. The site offers a filter system including ‘For Enterprise’, ‘For Teams’, ‘For Business’, ‘For Campus’ and ‘For Government’, or you can narrow down by industry, such as ‘Arts and Humanities’ or ‘Math and Logic’. You can search the site for free courses, if you’re on a budget, or top courses to see which are the most popular.

The website offers huge variety – whether it’s free or paid, a certificate or a degree, for an individual or a team, or within data sciences or social sciences.


With online courses from some of the world’s most popular universities, including MIT, Harvard and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, edX offers:

MicroBachelors programme

Designed for adult learners as part of their undergraduate education, MicroBachelors programmes are established by top universities and influenced by Fortune 1000 companies. Whether you have some or no college experience, these programmes help you on your path to your Bachelor’s degree by making you job-ready.

MicroMasters programme

These graduate level courses aim to advance your career. Created by top universities and recognised by employers, these programmes provide deep learning in your specific career field.

Professional certificate

Professional certificates are courses created by both industry leaders and top universities. They have been designed to develop and enhance critical professional skills.

Online master’s degree

EdX offer a range of master’s degrees from a range of universities, including The Georgia Institute of Technology, Boston University, Arizona State University and The University of Queensland.

Global Freshman Academy

The Global Freshman Academy enables people to take the same courses from the same faculty as on-campus Arizona State University students, earning earn transferable ASU credit.


Working to offer a deep understanding of in-demand fields, the XSeries programme, which has been established by world-renowned experts and top universities, will see you awarded with a certificate at the end.

There is also edX for Business which offers on-demand e-learning solutions aimed at upskilling and reskilling teams of five or more.

Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL)

The Chartered Institute of Linguistics (CIOL) offers qualifications in Languages for Business, especially designed for foreign languages in the workplace. Made up of Speaking and Listening and Reading and Writing exams, the qualification aims to ‘deliver a qualification which reflects practical and authentic application of foreign languages in the workplace’. Perfect for anyone working in internal business.

If you are trading internationally, you can use PagoFX to make international business transfers. Backed by global bank Santander, PagoFX is an easy-to-use international money transfer service that offers low-cost business payments for UK sole traders and limited companies.

Google Analytics Academy

Google’s Analytics Academy is a free tool to help you learn more about analytics and how they work. Although this offers little variety in terms of the specific skills you will be learning, analytics is a growing industry that is becoming a vital aspect to many roles. The courses focus on Google Analytics and how to use it, but you can pick up some key skills in data analysis along the way.

You can choose from ‘Google Analytics for Beginners’, ‘Advanced Google Analytics’ and ‘Google Analytics for Power Users’ courses, depending on the level of training you require. All the courses can be taken from your desk, and at the end you are awarded a certificate.

Google Digital Marketing

Similar to its analytics offering, Google offers a Digital Marketing course accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University. Featuring 26 modules and 40 hours of learning time, the free course will help you to ‘learn the fundamentals of digital marketing to help your business or career’. Topics include SEO fundamentals, paid advertising, social media and content marketing.

Freelance networking platforms

If you’re a freelancer who wants to expand their skills, you can join online freelancing platforms, such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour. By taking on smaller jobs that stretch the skills you already have, you can upskill and find new clients.

These networks should not be used for reskilling – as you will be charging clients for each job, you shouldn’t be working on projects you are not qualified to do. This will reflect in your profile with low ratings, as well as bad reviews via word of mouth.


There are a range of podcasts out there offering advice on how to upskill and reskill your workforce. Our top choices include:

If you’re taking on a course while also having a full-time job and working from home, it’s important to strike the right balance. From feeling overworked to lacking motivation, it’s crucial you properly manage your work-life balance (Link to: Managing your work-life balance when running a business from home).

*Figures correct as of 19 January 2021

This article is provided as general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topic. We recommend that you take professional and specialised advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the content of this publication, as this article is not intended to constitute expert advice. We do not guarantee, explicitly or implicitly, that the content of this article is accurate, complete or up-to-date. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from PagoFX or its affiliates.