Five ways online learning can help advance your career

Female student studying

Article provided by Stephen Somerville, Managing Director, Government and Employer Partnerships, FutureLearn

Thinking of a career change this year?

Online learning can help you secure that promotion or step into a new career to help you achieve your professional goals. Below we outline some of the big reasons to get stuck into an online course:

Employer’s value online learning

A recent independent survey commissioned by FutureLearn found that in the UK, evidence of continuous learning is one of the most important considerations when making a new hire — second only to years of experience and quality of CV and covering letter. Also, over two-thirds of employers believe a candidate’s ability to evidence taking an online course is a “differentiating factor” when hiring mid-management and junior staff.

The survey also found that roughly three quarters (73 per cent) of employers believe evidence of online learning is a valuable asset when considering the promotion of an existing employee and 65 per cent of learning and development professionals consider a mixture of online and face-to-face training to be the best way of keeping pace with industry changes.

Evidencing commitment and bridging the skills gap

‘Transferable skills’ only go so far and in trying to forge a new career it’s important to evidence a certain level of commitment. Taking a relevant online course shows prospective employers that a career changer is serious about the switch and demonstrates initiative and a proactive mindset.  It also offers scope for learners to customise their learning — helping bridge skills gaps and equipping career changers with the tools needed to relaunch themselves in a new profession.

In some respects, online learning holds an advantage over traditional courses; the speed with which they are able to be created means they are better placed to respond to the needs of industry today. This means as well as proving commitment, career changers taking online courses may be trained in something someone who entered their existing career straight is not.

Stay up to date with the latest trends and skills in your industry

Digital skills in particular are increasingly important and online courses can upskill employees to ensure they are prepared to meet the ever-changing requirements of the digital workplace. FutureLearn offers a plethora of tech and coding courses, including a series of courses made by Accenture on Digital skills.

Conversely, in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, soft skills are also becoming an important point of differentiation between humans and robots. FutureLearn offers a range of soft skills courses, covering topics such as People Management and Resilience in the Workplace.

Online learning is convenient and flexible

The flexibility of online learning means that there is no excuse for avoiding brushing up on a new skill. Online courses provide a great way of preparing for a career change while continuing to work which means it can be done remotely and completed at the learner’s convenience. FutureLearn offers short courses which start from roughly two hours of learning a week, to longer, accredited programmes, through to fully online degrees. And like other online learning platforms, FutureLearn is compatible on mobile devices making it even easier to learn flexibly.

Certificates from top universities and professional bodies

One huge advantage of online platforms is the credibility that comes from partnering with top universities and professional bodies. FutureLearn partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE), and thanks to its unique social learning pedagogy, learners get to interact directly with experts from these institutions. What’s more, learners are able to evidence their learning with certificates of achievement, providing they are learning through the upgrade model, have completed 90 per cent of the course, and averaged 70 per cent in any tests taken. The platform offers a huge range of courses and there is no better way to ready yourself for a new career than to immerse yourself in a global community of professionals and specialists from the industry you are trying to break into. For more information, visit:

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