Increasing Your Employability Skills for Free! – By Jae Lear

Increasing Your Employability Skills for Free


I often get told by job seekers that they have applied for over a hundred jobs and never get a look in or a response.

The job market is quite competitive and employers are looking for the best candidates, the ones that have the right skills or experience to suit their needs and hit the ground running with minimal training. I ask those job seekers “are you doing everything you can to sell yourself to an employer and be competitive in the job market?”. Quite often the response is “yes”, but when you dig deeper, that is not the case at all. People aren’t doing everything they can to be competitive and quite often are waiting for something to fall in their lap without putting in the hard yards.


One of the best ways to be competitive in the job market is to increase your employability skills. Employers want to see that job seekers are trying to increase their skills and knowledge and be productive. These people will most likely get a look in before the person who is doing nothing at all, as this tells an employer a lot about their personality and potentially work ethic.


Gaining employability skills can be done in several ways, generally through education, training, gaining work experience or volunteering. Quite often this also comes at a cost too. Most job seekers don’t have the money to pay for these things, so I am going to give some advice and ideas on how to increase your employability skills with little or no cost at all. Keep in mind it is not always easy to get something for free and you may need to travel outside of your region, however, this can be shown in your resume and an employer will see the effort you have taken to increase your skills and take that into consideration when reviewing your resume.


Volunteering and Work Experience


This is a great way to gain work skills in various industries including retail, warehousing, hospitality, construction etc.

By offering to volunteer your services with organisations such as:


  • Local Charities: Salvation Army, Smith Family, St Vincent DePaul etc
  • Op Shops
  • Churches
  • Food Banks
  • SES
  • Rural Fire Brigade
  • School or Sports Canteens
  • Animal Rescue: RSPCA, WIRES, Wildlife/Reptile Park or Zoo
  • Nursing homes and aged care facilities



You can learn skills valuable to a lot of positions including:


  • Customer service
  • Taking payments
  • Using EFTPOS machines and cash registers
  • Cash reconciliation
  • Ordering stock
  • Receiving incoming orders and checking invoices
  • Pick and pack
  • Merchandising
  • Delivery driving
  • Food handling
  • Food preparation
  • Cooking skills
  • WH&S
  • Cleaning
  • Use of hand held and power tools
  • First aid
  • Team work
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Storm damage techniques
  • General construction and building repair
  • Search and rescue
  • Fire prevention and protection
  • Community engagement
  • Animal rescue
  • Animal care
  • Administration duties
  • Computer and IT knowledge



Through volunteering you also have the opportunity to gain certificates relevant to the work place, some of those include:


  • First Aid
  • Use power tools/hand held operations
  • Fire Protection
  • Working with Children Check (WWCC)
  • Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP)



Education and Training


Education and training can be expensive, especially if using Registered Training Organisations (RTO), however there are some ways to obtain free or cheap training within this area depending on your personal circumstances and government funding.


You can always watch a YouTube clip on how to learn something, but you don’t always get a certificate to show you have learned that skill and you can’t get a reference by doing this either. Below are some ways to start free or subsidised training where you can obtain accredited and non-accredited certificates for your resume to show a potential employer that you are trying to upskill and being pro-active with finding employment.


Smart and Skilled is a reform of the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. It’s helping people in NSW get the skills they need to find a job and advance their careers.


Smart and Skilled provides eligible students with:


  • an entitlement to government-subsidised training up to and including Certificate III
  • government funding for higher-level courses (Certificate IV and above) in targeted priority areas.


Smart and Skilled introduces new prices and fee arrangements for government-subsidised courses. Fee exemptions and concessions are also available for disadvantaged learners.


For more information refer to



Free Online Courses (MOOCs): A MOOC is a Massive Online Course, which is a free online course available to anyone that wants to take the course. They are similar to online courses in terms of teaching and learning methods videos, group chats, assignments and tests but they do not generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses.


The biggest drawcard of the MOOCs is that they are free. Unlike traditional online units and degrees, you do not have to pay a fee to take the course, although many of the MOOC providers do charge a fee if you want your achievements officially recognised with a certificate of completion.


There are no entry requirements. There are no barriers to entry you do not need to achieve a high ATAR score or sit an interview to participate, just an interest in the subject matter and a thirst for knowledge.


Some of the fields of study include:


  • Agriculture
  • Business and management
  • Communications
  • Computing and information technology
  • Education and training
  • Environmental studies
  • Health services and support
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Paralegal studies
  • Psychology
  • Science


For more information refer to




  • Computers
  • Excel training
  • Project management


For more information refer to



There are also many other FREE courses within your local council region or various community services organisations that you may not know about that run a variety of courses from:


  • Computer and IT Skills
  • Barista Training
  • Hospitality
  • Food Safety Training
  • Construction
  • Administration
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Tai Chi Teaching


By contacting Southern Region Business Enterprise Centre and a Regional VET Pathways Support Facilitator on

02 6297 3121 or via the website, they can link you in with the appropriate training course to suit your needs.




Author: Jae Lear, Regional VET Pathways Support Facilitator – 6th May 2019