Coursera makes online classes free for unemployed workers

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Coursera is making its online classes free to workers unemployed because of the coronavirus.

Millions of people are out of work thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. While that’s an unfortunate part of our current reality, it isn’t all bad. It has given people a chance to pick up a new hobby or relax with their favorite pastimes. For some, learning something new is a great way to pass the time.

On Friday, online education company Coursera announced that its 3,800-course catalog is now free to workers who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic. It’s a great way to start earning credits towards a new degree, a professional certificate, or just to discover something new.

Free Learning

Coursera has been building itself into an online learning empire since 2012. For the first several years of its existence, it solely offered free classes. In 2016, it started charging for some courses—including those that grant users a professional certificate.

It’s worth noting that users with an account can still take almost any course for free as an “audit.” In other words, you’ll be able to access the entire content of the course but won’t get credit or a grade. Those that want to learn for learning’s sake can do so at any time.

The recent news means that unemployed workers who are eligible can earn credit and certificates for their work without paying. Sadly, access doesn’t run through individuals. Rather, federal, state, and local government agencies that serve the unemployed will need to sign up for the program—dubbed the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative. Typically the service costs $399 a year. Once signed up, these agencies can grant unemployed workers access to the courses.

The free period lasts through September 30. It is a fantastic way for unemployed workers to learn new, in-demand skills that will equip them to reenter the workforce once the world returns to normal.

Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda told Forbes, “Coursera, along with its community of partners, is ready to serve the millions of workers who have lost their jobs and are going to have a hard time returning in a slow economy.”

He went on to add, “We are honored to help U.S. states and countries around the world in their efforts to alleviate the impact on communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Lots to Learn

As mentioned, Coursera plays host to more than 3,900 courses. It partners with over 190 universities and companies to offer everything from specialized learning tracks to professional certificates. Chances are if there’s something you want to learn about, Coursera has a class on it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world just how valuable the tech industry is—not just in times of crisis but also in everyday life. For anyone hoping to start a new career in tech there are plenty of options.

Coursera has classes in digital marketing, analytics, cloud computing, app development (in every programming language you can think of), and much more. It also has offerings tailored to specific companies. For instance, there are certificates in Google IT Support and IBM z/OS Mainframe.

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