For many people, the months since the coronavirus pandemic began have been challenging, whether adjusting to a different workload or conditions at work, dealing with loneliness or money worries, or taking care of family members. We may have been struggling to operate a computer or tablet to join a video call, trying to help children with their maths schoolwork at home, or trying to explain something in an email that would have been much easier in a face-to-face conversation, and we’ve all become aware of gaps in our skills.
If you’re interested in improving the everyday skills that help you in your work life and your personal life, like English, maths, or IT, here’s a selection of resources to help you do that from home or in your workplace.
Checking your skills
If you want to find out your current level before you get started, Unionlearn’s Skillcheck has quick assessment modules in English, maths and ICT. When you’ve finished, it will recommend next steps.
If you only have a little time to work on your English skills, you might want to try Wranx. This gives you a quick, fun, ‘drill’ every day, adapting as it goes to help you concentrate on the areas that need the most work. And you’ll now get a certificate for any module or assessment completed through Wranx. Available modules include:
- Foundation English: an introduction to the most important English skills, including spelling and grammar
- Everyday English: punctuation
- Intermediate everyday English: punctuation
- Functional Skills: English levels 1 and 2
- GCSE English parts A and B
Or, if you’re looking for a one-off activity, you can have a go at the TUC Education eNotes – Write Now! will help you improve your writing skills and aims to help you tackle everyday writing tasks, while Read Now! introduces some speed reading techniques while also helping you identify facts, opinions, and bias in written text.
You’ll need to create an account on the TUC Education site to use these.
If English isn’t your first language, you can find plenty of resources to help you improve your language skills on the ESOL Nexus site, including grammar and vocabulary, English for work, and UK Life.
The Open University’s OpenLearn site has a whole host of free online learning resources. Here are some to help you with your English:
There are plenty of informal ways to improve your English, too. You might like to take some time out to read for fun, or even join a reading group. Contact your local library, UNISON learning rep, or regional education team, to find out if anything’s been organised near you.
And if you’re a member of NHS staff, you may be able to get free audiobooks over the next couple of months.
If you want to improve your maths skills but aren’t sure how, you might want to start with the Numeracy Challenge. The Challenge has been updated – it now only takes ten minutes to help you get an idea of where you are with your maths skills and suggest where you might go next. And you’ll find friendly faces to show you’re not alone.
If you like to take a ‘little and often’ approach to learning, you can finish Wranx’s ‘daily drill’ in ten minutes each day. There are modules to suit every skill level, including:
- Foundation maths: an introduction to the most important maths skills, including numbers and shapes
- Functional Skills maths: levels 1 and 2
- GCSE maths parts A and B
Register for Wranx here
One of the most obvious ways in which we use maths in our everyday lives is when we’re dealing with money. Unionlearn have a quick e-learning module that’s an Introduction to Personal Finances
You can also explore some budgeting and finance skills with our Making Every Penny Count activities, which you’ll find on our e-learning site. You can choose just one or two of them, or work your way through the whole lot! Log in with your My.UNISON account.
If you’d like to go a bit deeper, the Open University has a number of online courses on their Openlearn site. Here are a few:
If you want to start with the very basics of ICT, Learn My Way has beginner’s guides for all sorts of digital skills, starting with how to turn your computer on. You can use the activities there just by clicking on the ones that look interesting, but, if you want to keep a record of your learning, you can also make yourself an account, entering code 8000647 in the box that says ‘Centre’.
And Digital Unite also has some really useful technology guides.
The WEA has online courses including Essential Digital Skills and Creating Budgets in Excel.
And, if you’re ready to go a bit further, why not take the Open University’s course and learn about Succeeding in a Digital World?