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Skill Up During Lock Down

29th Apr 2020

For a large proportion of us, our day-to-day lives now look very different to just a few weeks ago. As the majority of educational, business and social spaces are currently closed and spending more time at home is the new norm, you may be left wondering what to do with your extra time.

One pertinent, time associated, question that has been widely discussed recently, is whether recruiters may start asking at future educational or job interviews – ‘What did you do with your time during lockdown?’ Perhaps you are someone who is keen to start using your time more productively – maybe by investing time into developing your skills, or learning something new? Or possibly you are keen to use this opportunity to give you the ‘edge’ over competition to get onto that college, apprenticeship or university course you wish to progress onto, or to help towards securing the future job role you are aiming for?

Take advantage of the host of virtual resources we have gathered together below to boost your learning and personal development – helping towards future-proofing your career or course ambitions.

Complete a Free Online Course or Develop Your Learning

There are hundreds of free courses out there – anything from science, business to creative and IT. You may have to pay to receive a certificate in some cases, however, even just doing the course is a great learning opportunity. 

  • Future Learn – offer free online courses in a whole range of subjects
  • Future Learn Schools – offer free access to hundreds of online educational courses for school students aged 13+, to continue and expand their learning
  • Open University Free Courses – offer 1000 free courses across 8 subjects
  • MOOC Massive Open Online Courses – free online courses available for anyone to enrol
  • Alison – offer free courses in a large range of fields
  • BBC Bitesize – offer daily lessons from primary age right up to post 16 lessons
  • STEM activities – science, technology, engineering and maths-based school activities that you can take part in at home. 
  • British Red Cross – gain basic First Aid Skills with the British Red Cross.

Learn a New Skill


  • Grasshopper – the coding app for beginners 
  • Scratch – create stories, games and animations. Aimed at ages 8 to 16 years but used by people of all ages
  • The Code Academy – learn to code for free 
  • The Typing Club – learn how to touch type for free
  • Dance Mat Touch Typing – a fun way to learn to touch type 
  • Tinkercad – a free online collection of software tools that help people all over the world think, create and make
  • Animation, GIF Making, Graphic Design, Video Editing, Digital Research, Games Design, Advertising, Entrepreneurship - free courses on IDEA via Duke of Edinburgh ‘Badges’.

Learn a Language

  • Duolingo – learn a language for free. Duolingo also exists as an app for your phone
  • BBC Languages – learn languages online for free.


  • Check out YouTube videos for how to get started with learning to sew, knit, crochet, and many other creative outlets, develop your drawing / painting / design skills or perhaps try your hand at upcycling
  • Develop your photography skills – check out Digital Camera World for a list of free courses
  • Set up an Etsy account, Instagram or WIX website to showcase your creative work
  • Free Stop Motion Apps – a list of fun free stop motion apps to make films
  • Diploma in Professional Make Up Artistry with Alison Free Courses 
  • Diploma in Fashion Design with Alison – Learn how to break into the fashion and design industry in this free online Fashion Design Course.


  • BBC Young Reporters – learn what it takes to be a BBC young reporter
  • Future Learn – start writing fiction
  • Start a YouTube channel or podcast so you can discuss your idea or showcase talents or editing skills
  • Write short stories or poetry and enter writing competitions – check out The School Reading List for a list of competitions.



Mechanics/Trade Work 

  • Learn to fix your bike via YouTube tutorials
  • Practise basic mechanics work on a family car (with adult supervision)
  • Develop carpentry skills by helping a parent/carer at home with odd jobs.
  • Alison – they offer free introductory courses on a range of auto technician, plumbing, electrics and carpentry topics.


  • Learn how to garden with The Gardeners World gardening for beginners and even grow your own produce
  • The Wildlife Trust – learn how to build a bug hotel, mini nature reserve, wildlife pond and more
  • Explore – Explore’s growing library consists of more than 250 original films and 30,000 photographs from around the world. View live web cams of wild animals all over the world. 

Preparing For your Future/University Applications

  • Try a free online course like detailed above or further develop your knowledge of the type of course you would like to apply to.
  • The Medical Portal – information and advice for aspiring medics
  • Uni Taster Days are offering free online events (live chats with universities / online webinars / talks etc) for those considering university.
  • National Careers Service – CV Writing Advice 
  • LinkedIn – set up a professional account and start building your network
  • UCAS University Virtual Open Days – list of virtual university open days.
  • Future Learn – how to succeed at interviews and communicating in the workplace.

Work Experience

  • If you are unable to attend your work experience, contact them to see if there is an opportunity for you to do something remote instead.
  • Inspiring Futures - Ansbury Guidance's virtual and in-person work experience and volunteering programme for 16 - 24 year olds, open to you whether in education currently, taking a break, or working. Suited to your interests, includes building employability skills and career guidance to help you take your next steps.
  • Barclays Life Skills Virtual Work Experience - gives you a unique opportunity to gain work experience in a company that you might not normally get access to, while highlighting the essential skills you might need.
  • The Forage – company backed virtual work experience programme
  • Learn Live – live broadcasts and videos from various employers. There is also an online chat facility.
  • Inspiring the Future – offering live webinars with employers live streamed or recorded. Supported by lesson plans & resources.
  • Speakers For Schools – virtual work experience to all 14-19 year olds attending state funded secondary schools or colleges, or being home schooled, in the UK. 


  • You may be able to volunteer in your local community. You could find out if any local neighbours need support- walking their dog, shopping etc. However, abide by social distancing measures and ensure a parent/carer knows where you are. 
  • Or you could sign up here to volunteer (however check age restrictions): BCP Covid Volunteering and Dorset Council Covid Volunteering.