about 2 years ago by Jenny Woods

10 Places to Learn Tech Skills for Free

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What beats a free lunch? A complimentary career boost of course, and there are plenty of on-the-house tech training courses to choose from. Read our rundown to see what tickles your technical fancy.

Digital Marketing Skills

Google Digital Garage is a fantastic online course brought to you by the masters of search. Positioned as a “one-stop shop for mastering digital marketing”, the course covers 26 topics including:

  • Building your web presence
  • Search
  • Analytics
  • Social Media
  • Online advertising
  • Video
  • Content marketing

As you progress through each section you’ll unlock the associated badge, boosting your knowledge as you go. (Bonus points for making upskilling feel like you’re levelling up in an RPG!) Plus, by completing the certification process, you’ll enhance your CV too. Simply sign up online to start and complete the course in your own time.

Groundbreaking Tech of Tomorrow

Manchester Digital Laboratory, or Madlab as it’s known, is a not-for-profit organisation based in Manchester’s creative hub – the Northern Quarter. Focusing on science, technology, art and culture, the organisation blends disciplines to push technology forwards. Courses explore how cutting-edge technology – like 3D printing and biotechnology – work alongside how they can be taken in new directions.

Many of the courses are paid however Madlab does run a variety of free training courses throughout the year. One example is the European funded Digital Skills for Women course which aimed at helping women break into digital roles. The course will be running again this year although this time with a focus on manufacturing.

Another complimentary course, Make Stuff, provided a series of free coding, making and tech events for both adults and young people across Greater Manchester. More of these events are coming and will be advertised in the Make Stuff events section so keep your eyes peeled.


While many of us use advanced technology few of us know how to build it, making coding a sought-after skill. With programming an integral part of moving technology forward, it’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of coding everywhere.

In recognition of the lack of diversity within the tech industry, many of the courses are aimed at encouraging other demographics to upskill and apply for technical roles.

Here are just some of the free courses and training available in 2018:

  • Free Code Camp – this online course puts you in touch with a community of millions of coders and teaches you to programme, build projects and earn certification. There are also opportunities to put your new skills to the test by gaining experience coding for non-profit organisations.
  • Code Bar – run free regular workshops and one-off events to make coding more accessible and to help underrepresented people learn programming in a safe and collaborative environment. One-to-one mentorship is also available.
  • Manchester Codes – is a part-time coding bootcamp that will teach you to programme in 24 weeks. For each student intake they fund at least two places via a scholarship that’s open to underrepresented minorities in tech: women, BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) individuals, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.
  • Code First: Girls – run free courses across the UK for people who identify as female or non-binary aged 18 to 23. In the past three years they have taught over 5,000 women how to code delivering £2.5m worth of free coding education. The course takes place over eight weeks and lasts two hours each evening. The level one course covers HTML, CSS< JavaScript, jQuery, Git, GitHub and more so you can make a website, improve its design and get it online.
  • Full Stack of Pancakes – also run free coding events like their recent introduction to HTML. Keep an eye out for what’s happening in 2018.

If you already have some coding knowledge but want to improve, there are plenty of coding meetups across Manchester at places like Madlab and Code Computer Love NQ.

Coding Plus

Been out of the workplace for a while? This could be the course for you. Tech Returners has partnered with Barclays Digital Eagles to provide eight free places on an eleven-week course for people seeking a tech role following a career break.

The course aims to break down the barriers that time away from work can cause by focussing on:

  • an introduction to coding
  • rapid prototyping including 3D printing, laser and vinyl cutting
  • softer skills like building your confidence
  • rebuilding your network
  • personal branding

Big Data

With IBM predicting a 28% increase in data scientist roles specialising in this lucrative discipline could be a smart move.

Free training from Data Science Capstone means you can. While you need to pay to receive certification you can explore the course, watch lectures, and participate in discussions at no cost. The course covers the basics of creating a data product, so you can “automate complex analysis tasks or use technology to expand the utility of a data informed model, algorithm or inference”.

For a similar course but with a focus on decision making, check out Coursera’s Data-Driven Decision Making course in conjunction with PwC.

Machine Learning

Another hot topic, machine learning can also be learned gratis at Udacity. Taught by industry professionals, the course takes ten weeks and you’ll be taught how to investigate data through a machine learning lens.

This includes extracting and identifying useful features that best represent your data and learning algorithms and how to evaluate their performance.

As you can see, there’s a wide range of free technical skills training available. With technology advancing at pace, investing a little of your time to enhance your CV and future-proof your career is a wise investment. All you need to do now is decide which direction you want to take.