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</Leading businesses and Government urge nation to take ‘An Hour to Skill’ to boost job prospects>

Published on 7 January 2021 by Web editor

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This press release was issued today by the Department for Education. There are 18 courses from the Institute of Coding’s partners included in The Skills Toolkit. Read more here.

Amazon Web Services, Cisco, FutureLearn, Lloyds Bank, LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft, and The Open University, are amongst the organisations joining forces with the Government to call on the nation to dedicate just one hour a week to online learning.

Launching today, ‘An Hour to Skill’ is a new campaign which aims to boost the nation’s skills and job prospects by inspiring people to set aside just one hour a week for online learning by taking a free course from The Skills Toolkit. These high-quality, online courses aim to further develop skills that employers are looking for, such as communicating effectively at work and practical maths, as well as boosting digital skills or building a professional online presence.

The Skills Toolkit features more than 70 courses designed by some of the nation’s top employers and educational institutions including Amazon Web Services, FutureLearn, Cisco, Lloyds Bank, LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft, The Open University and many more. Since launching in April last year, there have already been more than 130,000 registrations for courses via the online platform.

The courses aim to enhance individuals’ job prospects, giving them easy access to skills that could unlock job opportunities in a competitive market, or help them get ahead in their current role. People can dip in and out of their chosen course at their leisure, choosing to learn whenever it suits them best. By highlighting flexible options for developing skills, The Skills Toolkit aims to help boost the UK economy as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19 as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs.

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan, said:

“I’m delighted to launch ‘An Hour to Skill’ and thank all of the great organisations that have joined forces to help boost the nation’s skills and job prospects at such an important time for our economy. Progressing your learning doesn’t have to be a mammoth task – spending just one hour a week on a free online course can make a real difference to your earning potential. We’re confident that learning through The Skills Toolkit can give you the skills employers are looking for.”

Research shows that people who undertake further online learning can earn around £3,640 extra each year. And the benefits go beyond money, with more than three quarters of online learners reporting improved mental wellbeing.

Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University said:

“We’re pleased to share relevant, high-quality, free OpenLearn courses via The Skills Toolkit which have appeal across the spectrum, and to be supporting the new ‘An Hour to Skill’ campaign. All courses have appeal across the spectrum, with opportunities for all regardless of age, life stage or prior level of learning.

Using our world leading expertise and capability in online teaching, our short courses are imaginatively designed to inform and educate in a time-sensitive way.

We hope people continue to benefit from their skill-boosting content and for employers to back them too. We know that for many these free courses have been a lifeline in these difficult times and can provide a stepping-stone to more formal learning.”

‘An Hour to Skill’ is backed by top psychologist and broadcaster, Honey Langcaster-James, who says: “Learning something new can sometimes feel daunting, but devoting just one hour a week, and committing to that as part of an overall lifelong learning goal so that it becomes a part of your routine, can truly be transformational from both a personal and professional point of view. It’s a manageable way to adopt a new habit, that can not only help improve your long-term job prospects and your bank balance, but it can also lead to long-term benefits for your cognitive abilities and overall brain health.

Most of us know that when we exercise, we are training and improving our muscles and bettering our physical health, but the same also goes for our brain and our overall brain health. When we learn a new skill we are training our brain, and helping to improve our overall brain function as well as our mental health, by boosting our self-confidence, raising our self-esteem and building a sense of purpose. For anyone looking to learn something new this year, I would urge everyone to check out one of the excellent free courses on offer at The Skills Toolkit, the online learning platform put together by the Department for Education in partnership with some of the country’s leading businesses. It’s the perfect place to start.”

‘An Hour to Skill’ comes at a time when the UK’s interest in online learning is on the rise. At the beginning of the first lockdown, Google searches for ‘online courses’ increased by 285%, and currently searches are 41% higher compared to this time last year.

The organisations that contributed the courses available on The Skills Toolkit, include: Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Corndel, FutureLearn (in partnership with the Institute of Coding, Accenture, the University of Leeds, King’s College London, Lancaster University and UAL Creative Computing Institute), Google and Google Digital Garage, Learning Curve Group Limited, Lloyds Bank, Good Things Foundation, Microsoft and LinkedIn Learning, The Open University, and Virtual College.

Take ‘An Hour to Skill’ by starting a free online course.

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