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5 short course options to help you upskill yourself

Feeling stuck in your job, industry or career in general? Want to branch out, change jobs or even just move faster up the career ladder?

While gaining work experience within your chosen field is a good way to do this, upskilling yourself can accelerate this process. Luckily, there are lots of short course options available in South Africa that can help you broaden your skillset at the same time as working in a fulltime job:


Originally founded in Cape Town, GetSmarter is an online education company that collaborates with leading South African universities to offer premium online short courses specifically aimed at working professionals. Courses run from six to 16 weeks, and are available in a range of categories including writing, technology, finance, arts and design, hospitality and real estate. Quality standards are high because their courses are vetted and moderated by institutions like UCT, but as opposed to university courses, these are done entirely online. This includes learning materials, assignments, video lectures, expert tutor access and peer-to-peer online discussion forums. Because of this, you can complete the course anywhere you have an internet connection, which can be the key to juggling your studies while working too.

Oxbridge Academy

The Oxbridge Academy offers a range of online short courses that are designed to help equip you with workplace-relevant knowledge and skills over a short period of time. Courses cover fields such as project management, public relations, childhood development, computer courses, human resources and more. These courses are completed by correspondence, so you’re sent all your materials by courier (or you can access them online), and you then submit your assignments by post or email. The academy also offers student representatives to give you extra support as you study.


As a South African, Coursera gives you access to some of the world’s most esteemed educational institutions, such as Yale and Stanford University in the US, the University of Manchester and London in the UK – while never having to leave home. All short courses offered are between four and six weeks and are conducted online. As a student, you’ll receive an “interactive textbook” with videos, quizzes and projects. Assignments are peer reviewed, and you’ll also get access to community discussion forums where you can connect with other learners, debate ideas, discuss course material and get help mastering concepts. The one potential downside is that the courses aren’t South African specific, but if you’re studying a more general topic, this shouldn’t matter.  


Like Coursera, Udemy is an international learning platform where courses are all conducted online. Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Udemy is the largest online learning marketplace, offering over 55 000 courses that don’t expire (so you can complete them at your own pace) and a huge range of instructors that you can select based on reviews and ratings from past students. If you already have a formal qualification and a fulltime job, this is a great option for upping your skills in a specific area, whether it’s fitness, marketing, music or technology. Udemy for Business is also a recent addition, where companies can upskill their own staff internally using the platform.

University short courses

While universities are probably best known for their fulltime undergraduate degrees and certificates, several South African universities also offer short course programmes. These qualifications are designed to be done part time, after hours, so they’re ideal if you want to study while still working. For example, the University of the Witwatersrand offers a short course programme of around 12 weeks, where you can attend evening and/or Saturday lectures on campus. In this way, you’re able to interact with students and teachers, but classes are typically smaller with more personalised attention. Other institutions around the country offer their own short course programmes, such as UCT’s Graduate School of Business and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

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