Let’s be honest: unemployment rates are constantly on the rise and there are limited job opportunities.

That means learning new skills can be a game-changer when it comes to earning extra income, getting a promotion, or even starting a side hustle. Let’s explore the importance of upskilling and the top online education platforms that cater to young professionals in South Africa.

So, why should you upskill yourself?

In a country where youth unemployment rates have been among the highest in the world for more than a decade, upskilling is extremely crucial for young professionals. According to recent data from Statistics South Africa, youth unemployment reached a staggering 58% for those aged 15-24 years and 38.3% for those aged 25-34 in Q3 of 2023. These statistics highlight the urgent need for young professionals to add to their knowledge and skills to stand out in a highly competitive job market.

By upskilling, you increase your chances of finding employment, securing promotions, and achieving financial stability. It's a powerful way to overcome the skills mismatch that exists in South Africa. With upskilling, you arm yourself with the expertise you need to bridge the gap, and make sure you're ready to seize opportunities and thrive in your career.

Clueless on which courses can you take? No problem!

Hopefully this blog post will help you find the perfect online learning journey tailored to your passions (and pocket).

Below, you’ll find a selection of top-notch education platforms, each offering a unique blend of specialisations that fit your specific field or interests, with course descriptions, how long the programmes take, and the qualifications awaiting you at the finish line. Last but not least, let’s not forget everyone's favourite topic: the cost!

🎓 Set up an Education goal on the Franc app. If you’re committed to your upskilling journey, make sure you set aside an investment for your next course. Set a target (your dream course cost), and use our in-app calculator to work out your weekly or monthly contributions and how long you need to reach the amount. Remember: a small investment in your future could mean big returns later in your career!

Here are our top 5 resources for upskilling yourself:

  1. GetSmarter
  2. FutureLearn
  3. LinkedIn Learning
  4. Upskillist
  5. Udemy

1. GetSmarter


GetSmarter collaborates with reputable South African (like the University of Cape Town) and global institutions like Harvard to provide high-quality online courses. The content is designed to be practical and immediately applicable to the workplace.

📌 It specialises in… industry-specific courses, including marketing, finance, project management and data analytics.

⏱ How long are the courses? These short courses typically span between 6 to 12 weeks and are part-time, allowing you to fit learning into your super busy schedule.

🎓 What do I get when I finish? If you successfully complete the course, you receive a certificate from the partnering university or institution.

💰 Okay, but what’s the cost? Course prices vary depending on the programme and institution. Expect to budget between R1,000 to R30,000 for a course –  the investment is often dependent on the prestige of the institution and qualification.

2. FutureLearn


FutureLearn partners with leading universities and industry experts worldwide, making it a hub for knowledge-sharing and skill development. The platform also offers a variety of free courses.

📌 It specialises in…  business, health, technology, and humanities.

⏱ How long are the courses? Courses can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

🎓 What do I get when I finish? You can earn a digital certificate when you finish a course, which you can use to display your newly acquired skills and knowledge.

💰 Okay, but what’s the cost? While a small range of courses are free, most courses range from R500 to R5,000, depending on the course provider and specialisation. You can opt into an ‘Unlimited’ annual subscription to access (almost) all of the short courses throughout the year.

3. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning

Owned by LinkedIn, LinkedIn Learning offers courses taught by industry professionals. Plus, your qualification seamlessly integrates with your professional profile – which is a win!

Lean in to LinkedIn Suggestions. LinkedIn Learning’s algorithm suggests courses according to your current skill set. Make use of the suggestions to supercharge your LinkedIn profile for recruiters and companies. 

📌 It specialises in… Everything from software and soft skills,to personal development, technology and creative skills. Anything related to your professional development!

⏱ How long are the courses? The courses are short and focused, and you would usually need to dedicate a few hours per course.

🎓 What do I get when I finish? You receive certificates of completion which are recognised by most employers.

💰 Okay, but what’s the cost? LinkedIn Learning is subscription-based for around R200-R450 per month, but you can opt into a free month’s trial.

4. Upskillist


Upskillist (previously known as Shaw Academy) offers interactive online courses with the benefit of live webinars. This real-time interaction is a huge win if you want a dynamic learning experience with qualified instructors.

📌 It specialises in… practical skills across numerous fields such as digital marketing, photography, finance, and nutrition.

⏱ How long are the courses? Courses generally run for four weeks, with one lesson per week.

🎓 What do I get when I finish? You get an internationally-recognised diploma accredited by leading industry accreditation bodies.

💰 Okay, but what’s the cost? Upskillist operates on a subscription-based model, with fees starting at approximately R755 per month, giving you access to multiple courses. You can get a free month’s trial.

5. Udemy

Known for its open-source model, Udemy allows experts worldwide to create and sell courses, providing a huge range of choices across a number of industries, skill sets and interests.

Check the reviews! Because it’s a bit of a free-for-all platform (although all courses are reviewed by Udemy’s Quality Review Process), you get a mixed bag of course quality. Have a good look at the reviews and watch a preview class before you buy a course. 

📌 It specialises in… practically every topic, from practical and niche how-to guides, to in-depth technical skills.

⏱ How long are the courses? Each of the courses vary in length, typically ranging from a few hours to several weeks depending on your specialisation.

🎓 What do I get when I finish? You’ll get a certificate endorsed by Udemy.

💰 Okay, but what’s the cost? There’s a big range of prices, but sales and discounts are common with Udemy offering courses for as low as R100 to R500.

Invest in yourself and future-proof your career by embracing ongoing education. All the best!