Free Online Courses to Boost Career Marketability

Career exploration

By Daisy Wright.

Randstad Canada surveyed employees in 33 countries around the world, and one in three Canadians believe their jobs could vanish in a few years due to the rise of technology. “The jobs of tomorrow are on the drawing boards of today – being aware that innovation is occurring and making the effort to understand and grow with those innovations will help you grow and maintain your career,” says Tom Turpin, president of Randstad Canada.

While the survey focused on technology, if job seekers are not taking advantage of learning opportunities, they, too, will have to worry about becoming obsolete. As career practitioners who work with clients on a daily basis, we have the responsibility to point them toward resources that will help them advance their careers. After all, lifelong learning is an important part of career development, and one does not need to be physically present in a classroom for learning to take place. Thanks to the internet, the world has become a university.

As an example of this, our clients can now complete MBA-level courses without having to attend MBA schools. While this does not mean they will be able to add the MBA designation behind their names, they can learn the fundamentals of business (or improve their business skills) by engaging in online learning. Others might want to gain certification in some essential workplace skills.

Below is a list of universities, other learning institutions, and aggregators of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) offering free online courses. Some offer certificates; others don’t.

  1. Udemy offers over 7,000 free, short courses, making it easy for people to gain real-world skills.
  2. Coursera, one of the most well-known provider of MOOCs, is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer online courses that anyone can take for free. Taking a course for free does not confer a certificate upon completion, but, if you wish, you can purchase the accreditation for a reasonable fee.
  3. Khan Academy is a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.
  4. edX is a popular non-profit learning platform created by founding partners Harvard and MIT. Like Coursera, the site has links to many courses that you can study for free, just for the good of your brain. If you prefer, there is the option of paying a fee for a verified certificate upon successful completion of a course.
  5. Alison is a global online learning community, offering free, high-quality resources to help develop essential workplace and personal interest skills. The site offers over 1100 free courses.
  6. Open Culture brings together 1500 high-quality cultural and educational courses from top universities for those interested in lifelong learning, and it’s all free.
  7. University of Toronto offers free courses that can be accessed via Coursera.
  8. Yale University provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn. Yale also offers free courses via the Coursera website.
  9. Skillshare was launched in 2011 by Michael Karnjanaprakorn and offers a wide variety of classes in animation, design, illustration, writing, business, photography, filmmaking, and general lifestyle subjects taught by people who are experts in those fields. Although Skillshare offers a paid premium membership, there are also many interesting short courses available for free.
  10. FutureLearn gives learners the opportunity to take courses for free, but also offers paid premium levels of membership with additional benefits.

There are many more institutions that offer free online courses in a variety of disciplines. The above list is just the tip of the iceberg. Encourage your clients to explore these and more and boost their marketability.

Disclaimer: As a service to my clients, I have made these resources available to them. I suggest you research each of the links/institutions to determine if the course offerings may be applicable and of interest to your own client base – Daisy Wright.


Photo by jeshoots on Unsplash

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So interesting, I am so glad to be part in hospitality tourism management skills course

Can u tell me what school ur doing it? Thanks!

looking for all safety courses and above all courses looking ahead of my term

Looking for something to fall back on due to health issues that have been occurring so I must stay home and I want to get a area tht intrestes me and I need a bit more information please contact me for the information I am requesting

im am looking for something that i can do from home and make a living at. I live in a really remote area and the only jobs that are around here are in the tourism area. I have done this for many years now want something different. Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated. Thank you

Hi Kathy

I like your determined and willingness I like meeting with women who envisualize a better tomorrow for themselves :)Good luck!

i’m looking for something that i can make use for my tomorrow like skill work so it can help me as a person

I am looking for an online course for a superior job, please help me.

Hi, looking for a free online course on business or banking from any Canadian university.

hi good morning am looking for a free online course on office administration from any college in canada.

I would love to be able to take a Human Resource course so that I may advance at my job. I want a career not a job.

Hy I’m looking for online Bechalor in Civil engineering or Diploma in Civil engineering..
Is any institute, University offering this course online??

Almost none of these are free.

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your comment. It acted as a good reminder to me to review and update the list of online learning opportunities in this article.

Many of these online learning sites offer two (or more) levels of student enrolment. For example, on Coursera and edX, you can take many classes for free, but if getting a certificate of completion for a course is important to you, then you would have to pay the course fee.

But, if you’re solely interested in gaining some new learning, you can do that without spending a penny. ? I’ve added some more description to each of the learning platforms listed in order to add some clarity about the different models.

Thanks again!

Thanks for visiting the CPC site Julie, and for your comments.

At the time of writing in 2014, the resources noted above were free, unless one wanted to pay to obtain a certificate of completion from certain of the institutions. In those cases, I made the distinction. Feel free to revisit the sites and see if they have made any updates. This is a good time to up-skill in preparation for the new world of work after COVID19.

To your success,


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am looking for an affordable online course about marketing and relevant subjects offered by a Canadian university. It is also important to me to get certificate upon successful completion of course.

Your kind advise and support is highly appreciated.

Faithfully yours,
Amin Bayrami

I had some time on my hands due to the demise that is covid. I am someone who enjoys learning. Education is the greatest “arsenal” one could stock up on. Seeing all the offers of free online Education I started checking into some of the delivering bodies. The course materials of most I have looked into, are the fundamentals of the heading they show. And no..One can not expect a doctorate or an MBA behind their name but for anyone that has wanted to get into a career of choice or make a change this could be an opportunity (university isn’t an option for everyone) and with the economic hit employers just as much the seekers are feeling the pinch. To the ones that are expecting to “half ass” it expecting a corporate ladder climb good luck, but to the one that’s utilizing it for what it is and applying it with technical skill there is great opportunity . I as a educator and a lifetime career did not go too university however educated myself and mastered my skills in my field to challenge accreditation exams and succeed 10 fold.. to the people that did go to college and look down their nose or hold prejudice because of where ones Education comes from. I feel sorry for you. If we spent time as the writer stated pointing people in the right direction and promoting the interest.. wow how we could really live in this society of ours.. loved your article and allowing my 2 cents