It’s the new buzz word of the coronavirus pandemic aside from ‘hibernation’, ‘pause’ and ‘stood down’. Skill up is the new phrase, and it will resonate with hundreds of thousands of Aussies.

As many as one million of us may lose our jobs in the six months, meaning that we’ve gained about one billion hours of available time.

Just this week, it’s believed our unemployment rate may be reaching the dreaded double digit figures.

So what should we do with this time to make sure we’re employable in the future?

While many of us are binging on the latest Netflix series or indulging in puzzles, this is a unique economic opportunity to re-train and up-skill Australia’s labour force. Remember, you’re never too old to learn.

Last week, Education Minister Dan Tehan said the government will provide 20,000 fee-reduced places in six-month diplomas or certificates delivered online by universities or private institutions.

“Binge on studying, binge on looking at a teaching degree, looking at a nursing degree, and allied health degrees,” Mr Tehan told reporters on Sunday.

“Areas where we need people, and we are going to need people as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Educational institutions like TAFE NSW are offering people free online courses for people to upskill and possibly enter into a new area of the workforce.

A suite of 21 fee-free courses are available online – from computer skills to medical administration. There are also courses that will help develop your administration skills, like an introduction into accounting, or if you’re not so flash on the computer, you can take a digital literacy program.

The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee said that these select courses will help job seekers diversify their skills during this time.

“The NSW Government understands that circumstances have changed for a lot of people and business owners, which means the way they work and how they conduct their business has also changed,” Mr Lee said.

“The TAFE NSW fee-free accredited courses will contribute to helping businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs. It’s vital we keep people employed and ensure we have the ability to rebound when things do improve.

“We also understand that many industries are in hibernation, so using this period to upskill for the future is time well spent.”

Deakin University, which are based in Victoria, are also offering eight courses including strategic leadership training as well as building on skills so employees thrive in the workplace.

And if you’re thinking of going above and beyond, Class Central is an online portal which has short courses offered by the top universities in the world. You’ll find subjects ranging from business to veterinary science listed from Ivy league institutions like Yale and Harvard as well as other top-ranking universities like Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Most of the courses offered by TAFE NSW and universities, range from two weeks to six months, as the education providers move to tailor these to ‘economic hibernation’.

Economists have long said that investment into human capital (education and skills), tends to increase during recessions as there aren’t as many well-paying alternatives.

Emily Temnyalov, a senior lecturer in economics and Peter Siminiski, a professor of economics at the University of Technology in Sydney wrote in The Conversation, that our labour market was already facing the prospect of significant transformation as a result of automation and of trade liberalisation.

Some workers who have been stood down are in casual or unstable jobs. While others, are in some jobs that are vulnerable to future shocks to the labour market.

“Re-training and up-skilling are our best shot at getting ahead of these changes. Training in many growing industries such as coding, programming, design and data analytics is “digital-friendly” and can be delivered online,” they wrote.

“Australia’s universities have proven to be remarkably flexible in the crisis, refashioning most of their offerings for online learning. They and the rest of the education sector should be able to do so more broadly for anyone looking to acquire new skills or to switch to a new field.”

Here are some of the courses you can take during the economic hibernation period:


A suite of 21 fee-free TAFE NSW short courses are available online to assist anyone across the state who wants to upskill during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the courses include:

  • eMarketing for Small Business
  • Engaging Customers Using Social Media
  • Writing and Presentation Skills
  • Computing Skills
  • Team Leader Skill Set
  • Administration Skills for Team Leaders.

Click here for more.

Deakin University

The Victoria-based university has eight courses available online which run for just two weeks. These courses include:

  • Become Career Smart: How to Sell Yourself
  • Caring for Older People: A Partnership Model
  • Infant Nutrition: From Breastfeeding to Baby’s First Solids
  • Introduction to Humanitarian Aid
  • Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace
  • Leading Strategic Innovation: How to Lead with Purpose
  • Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work
  • Transforming Digital Learning: Learning Design Meets Service Design

Click here for more.

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