We remain as passionate and dedicated as ever regarding your personal and professional development, so decided to task ourselves with finding some of the best free online courses currently available for PAs, EAs and other office support professionals.
Whether you’re currently working from home, actively job seeking or perhaps even starting to go back to the office, it’s likely that the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has left you with a bit more free time than you might normally have. While some of this free time should rightly be reserved for relaxing, indulging your hobbies or even volunteering from home, career focused office support professionals will know that some of it should be spent developing new or existing skills.
Online courses are a simple, flexible and effective way of learning something new or building upon a skill that you already have - all from the comfort of your own home. So, we put together a list of free options to help you start navigating the world of digital training.
Free online courses for soft skills
Every day, office support professionals of all types use soft skills to complete their jobs to a high standard. Focusing on areas such as communication, creativity and negotiation, the following online training courses cater to skills which you undoubtedly already possess but that can always be refined and developed.
Whether you’re working with colleagues, clients, contractors or vendors, collaboration is an essential skill for any office support professionals who wants to get the job done effectively and efficiently. The University of Leeds is currently offering a free online course that teaches how to collaborate successfully at work, how to match your communication to your professional goals and how to maintain control in challenging professional scenarios.
Even more fitting for the professional and social landscape of today is this course that teaches how to collaborate with a remote team. The course – offered by Class Central - explores the challenges and benefits of working with others while working from home, looking at how to build and empower remote teams, as well as the importance of ‘international competence’ when working with team members in different locations.
Regardless of industry, job title and experience level, every office support professional knows the importance of effective communication skills in the workplace. This essential course currently available for free on Coursera doesn’t just give you the tools for improving your communication skills but also teaches the most successful strategies for using those skills to your advantage in a professional setting. This course is ideal for any PA or EA who wants to learn how to develop trust, ask thoughtful questions and create persuasive messages.
Being able to think creatively on your feet to solve complex, multidimensional problems is essential for a successful career as a PA, EA or other office support professional. Offered by Imperial College London, Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success is a free online course that aims to teach innovative communication skills, new ways to approach problems and how to provide novel solutions to your bosses and teams.
A free online course for Becoming a Successful Leader is currently available from Catalyst, a non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion. When the course is over, you will have learned what it takes to be a successful business leader in the 21st century and how to adopt an inclusive leadership style. Requiring 1-2 hours of study per week for 4 weeks, this course is ideal for any PA, EA or office support professional wishing to step into a supervisory or management role in the future.
Incorporating a number of soft skills including communication, persuasion and cooperation, negotiation skills are useful for reaching favourable business decisions and agreements. Enrol in this Art of Negotiation course from the University of California to learn about the different strategies, types and tactics of negotiation, as well as how power and authority can influence negotiations.
Problem-solving & decision-making
Every day, PAs are expected to solve problems and make informed decisions for their bosses and businesses. Offered by the University of California, Irvine, this free online course covers everything you should know about successfully solving problems and making decisions. By the end of this 5-hour programme, you will have learned how to assess problems, evaluate solutions and anticipate risks, ultimately building upon the critical thinking skills at the foundation of problem-solving and decision-making.
Free online courses for hard skills
As opposed to the abstract subjectivity of soft skills, hard skills are abilities that can be taught and tested, like foreign languages or writing computer code. We found the following online training and courses for hard skills frequently used by PAs, EAs and office support professionals.
An understanding of business management is essential for any PA or EA looking to progress from a pure assistant role into one with strategic responsibilities and higher earning potential. It’s also vital for those considering starting up their own Virtual Assistant business. This Introduction to Business Management course offered online for free by King’s College London will help you to fulfil those career goals by teaching you how to use and apply a range of business concepts, tools and terminology. You will learn how to manage money, people, information and yourself. London Business School is also offering a free online course in business management titled Managing the Company of the Future which explores the traditional principles of company management as well as alternative methods that are becoming increasingly adopted.
Since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, knowledge and understanding of data protection, privacy and associated regulations has become highly valued by businesses in every industry. Impress your superiors, add value to your CV and enhance your earning potential by taking this Introduction to GDPR course offered for free by Virtual College.
The ability to plan, organise, promote and execute a successful event is a highly sought skill in Personal and Executive Assistants. This free event management course offered by the Oxford Home Study Centre provides an entry level overview of the industry and focuses on three key topics: the concept of contemporary event management, the fundamentals of event creation and effective event marketing strategies.
Knowledge of finance and accountancy is essential for anyone considering starting up their own Virtual Assistant business and is highly useful for any PA or EA looking to be responsible for project management in their current firm. Online learning and development website Alison offers a variety of free online courses in finance and accountancy for professionals of every level, with topics ranging from credit control to accounting in business decisions.
Did you know that the hiring managers and recruiters using our CV database to source talent often search for specific languages? Learning a new language could also put you ahead of the competition when it comes to applying for a job that requires frequent overseas travel or relocation. Enhance your career prospects - and your future travels - by downloading a free language learning app like Duolingo or Babbel.
Got a foreign language on your CV already? Upload it to our CV database for your chance to get headhunted.
Aimed at PAs, EAs and other high-level professionals, this course on new technologies covers everything from blockchain to artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The purpose of this course isn’t to make you a technical expert, instead it is an excellent resource for Assistants to proactively learn about innovative platforms that could be used by their businesses or bosses to streamline processes, improve performance or increase profits.
The Open University offers an excellent course for PAs looking to start their project management journey, through which you will gain the skills to successfully manage all phases of the project lifecycle using the most appropriate tools and methods. Alternatively, if you already have an elementary understanding of managing projects and want to learn more, this Project Management Principles and Practices Specialisation course - offered by the University of California - is ideal.
Whether you’re a Receptionist, Secretary, Office Manager or Executive Assistant, some aspect of your role will likely require quick, competent typing skills. Fortunately, typing.com offers all you need to get up to scratch, entirely free of charge. The site is also useful for anyone looking to give their other IT skills a boost, with lessons in online safety, coding fundamentals and more.
Working from home
As many of you will have discovered, working from home comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. This free online course from the University of California examines how to Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for personal & Professional Productivity. The course will help you recognise and overcome barriers to successful time management, keep your sense of perspective, and manage resources effectively; ultimately leading to a more satisfying work-life balance. For office support professionals who are perhaps struggling to draw the line between work and life without the office distinction, this makes for an excellent resource.
This list is by no means exhaustive, rather it should act as a starting point for you to begin exploring the huge variety of free online courses and training currently available. If you don’t see anything here that takes your fancy, try a quick Google search or browse the free courses available through the Open University or Futurelearn to find one that interests you and aids your career goals.