Home Open Courses How to tap into the career upskilling market and sell courses online

How to tap into the career upskilling market and sell courses online

Working professionals are upskilling now more than ever.

In times when jobs are becoming automated, and in the presence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, professionals are paying to enrol in short courses and micro-credentials to either advance or stay competitive in their career.

And with this growing trend arises opportunities for universities, higher education providers and trainers to tap into the micro-credentialing and short course market. It is an exciting time to be in the online course industry, with many benefits available to those who choose to teach online.

The below 7 tips can help you capitalise on the upskilling trend, along with providing value for your organisation and the professionals taking your course.

1. Conduct market research for in-demand skill sets

Your upskilling course will need to focus on a specific topic within your niche. As such, it’s important to conduct some market research to get a better sense of in-demand topics professionals are seeking.

Let’s say you’re from a recruitment company that writes a range of thought leadership articles on topics like soft skills, going for job interviews and how to write a resume.

To hit the in-demand topics for upskilling, you could create one or many short courses on a range of soft skills: leadership, communication, resilience, creativity and time management.

It would be useful to research existing courses on these topics, along with how they are priced, to get a better sense of where your course fits within the market and what your point of difference may be.

2. Leverage your existing thought leadership content

Now that you’ve finalised your topic, you need content for your course. Given that most organisations already create content for their audience across a range of channels, you’ve likely got more than enough existing material to create a high quality online course

Your existing material could be from blog posts, thought leadership, online course videos or existing articles on educating the market about your industry.

3. Design great activities

While your existing content is key for your course, we don’t recommend stopping at content alone. What’s even better is getting learners to do something with that content; through activities. 

You might have activities that get learners to: 

  • Have a discussion after watching or reading a piece of content;
  • Reflect on their experiences with the topic;
  • Find examples of the topic in the real world;
  • Put skills into practice;
  • Or even to create something relevant to the topic.

Going back to our recruitment company example: if your course is on developing leadership skills, some of your activities could be to get learners to:

  • Watch video clips of leaders in various scenarios and discuss what worked and what didn’t
  • Reflect on and share their own experiences with great and not-so-great leaders
  • Share examples of the different types of leaders and their styles in a range of companies
  • Implement one of leadership techniques in their next workplace meeting and reflect on the experience
  • Create their own leadership playbook that they can use in the job

Learning activities like these improve the online experience, simultaneously helping you to build a strong online learning community that benefits from peer-to-peer relationships beyond the course.

4. Create your online course

While face-to-face course delivery absolutely has its merits, online learning is beneficial to both your learners and your organisation.

Busy professionals want upskilling that is convenient, easily accessible and fits in with their already full lives. Online courses can be made accessible to learners anywhere and anytime, making them a popular choice over face-to-face options.

What’s more, online courses are far more sustainable for organisations to run, and can lead to greater ROI over time. While the initial course set up requires your time and effort in planning a good online course, once your course is live, you can teach an unlimited number of students for minimal effort in ongoing facilitation. 

And, we’ve found that most educators who teach courses on the OpenLearning platform really value the opportunity to have meaningful interactions with their learners through our social mechanics such as liking, commenting and galleries for learner’s posts. Download the OpenLearning Creators’ Handbook for a step-by-step guide.

5. Write a killer landing page

Once your course is ready to go live, you’ll need to write a top-notch landing page that entices learners to enrol. 

  • What benefits will learners get from taking your course?
  • How will it support them in their career progression?
  • What skills will they develop by taking your course?
  • What kind of support will they get?
  • How long will it take them?
  • What topics will the course cover?

Answering these questions can help ignite learners’ passion and interest in your topic, and make them more eager to enrol.

6. Market your course

Once your course is live and ready for enrolments, you’ll need to promote it! 

Invite online learners to your course by sharing it with your existing networks, on social media, via your own newsletter, blog and on your own website. Create a promotional course video that invites and inspires learners to join your course. If possible, segment your promotions to target individuals who would be most interested in your course.

For example, the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf created several promotional course videos, listed their sign language course on their website, and had an interview that was featured on the OpenLearning Blog.

7. Offer a certificate of completion

For many, upskilling isn’t just about learning new skills. Learners want to be able to showcase their ongoing professional development to their current and prospective employers. 

Can you provide a certificate for your course? Even if it isn’t a certified course, offering a certificate of completion is valuable for learners.

The upskilling trend is a fantastic opportunity for you to not only be a thought leader among industry professionals, but it can add revenue streams to your organisation. 

And with Industry 4.0 full steam ahead, we don’t see this trend dying down anytime soon.


OpenLearning is a social online learning platform with drag-and-drop tools for creating great learning experiences.

Join our livestream and build together. The OpenLearning Community Hangout with Learning Designer Atikah Hajar via Youtube or Facebook.

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